Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.. at least when it comes to the right to keep and bear arms. With New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo set to leave office at 11:59 p.m. on Monday, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul is set to take the reins of the state, and will be looking to distance herself from the previous administration as she preps a gubernatorial run of her own next year. Despite that, don’t expect Hochul to take a diametrically different stance from Cuomo on the issue of the right to keep and bear arms. While Hochul was once a Second Amendment supporter, she’s “evolved” on the issue over the past decade.
But after a break following a losing bid for re-election, Hochul returned to the political scene to run for Lieutenant Governor with a far more liberal agenda, highlighted in a 2014 campaign ad.
In that video, she described her record in Congress as one of supporting “core Democratic values” like abortion rights, marriage equality, and funding for Medicaid, despite representing “the most Republican district” in New York state.
In reality, Hochul’s record was more mixed, including siding with House Republicans to oppose parts of the Affordable Care Act, push a balanced budget Constitutional amendment, and declare Obama era Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress.
Her subsequent, publicly leftward shift reflects the political necessity of running for statewide office, where the median voter is far to the left of that in Hochul’s former congressional district.
That shift included a vastly different stance on guns.
During her 2014 campaign for Lieutenant Governor, Hochul called the failure of Congress to pass background check legislation a “disgrace” following the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut that left 20 children dead.
She also doubled down on support for the Cuomo Administration’s signature gun control law, the SAFE Act, passed in the wake of that shooting that killed 26 people.
As the upstate New York NPR affiliate points out, Hochul’s “evolution” on the Second Amendment came right about the same time that she decided to run for statewide office, which calls into question where she truly stands on the issue or if she even has any firm belief one way or the other. It’s quite possible that when Hochul represented western New York in Congress, she embraced the right to keep and bear arms because it was the smart choice politically, just as it was the smart thing to do from a political standpoint to ditch her pro-Second Amendment stances when she decided to run for the number two slot in New York’s executive branch.
Either way, it means that Hochul’s as likely to take a position that runs counter to the prevailing viewpoints of the gun control lobby as Andrew Cuomo is to being named the next president of the NRA. Cuomo’s departure may signal a new day in Albany, but it’s going to be the same old same old when it comes to attacks on the right to keep and bear arms emanating from the governor’s mansion.