Sheinkopf Speaks: Hochul Train Rolls as Governor’s Race Heats Up

Gov. Kathy Hochul
Hank Sheinkopf

When some political consultants tell you it’s a done deal, smile, briefly listen, and when you shake hands and say goodbye make sure your wallet is where you thought it was. When political consultants who are really lobbyists tell known campaign contributors they’d better get on board with one of their client candidates before the cliched train leaves the station, take it as a warning–your access is being threatened.

Things to consider: Governor Andrew Cuomo’s January 1, 2003, extraordinary inauguration speech. How about that Eliot Spitzer presidential draft effort after his successful governorship. Wasn’t President Dukakis great? Dewey can’t lose. NYC Mayor Mark Green. Ray McGuire’s money will get him through. Stringer’s ready on day one. Mario will crush Pataki. D’Amato, really? Schumer? Nah. Hope about the Tali Farhadian-Weinstein $8 million Manhattan D.A. juggernaut? Wow, that swearing-in ceremony!

The American political cemetery is also filled with candidates who couldn’t lose. They were rich. Most never had a shot. The consultants saw houses in the Hamptons. And they got them. Hard to imagine but there was once a time when political consultants would starve if they didn’t win. There was a consultant standard beyond looking at the loot you grabbed with a smile. 

Consultant mobile phones needed extra batteries this past week. They’ve got the dough shake rattle and roll dance. The hokey pokey of getting their hands in the till. Ah, the power. Hochul? Nah. James, yeah. Suozzi, interesting and not impossible. Bellone? Who knows? De Blasio, could happen. Jumaane? Him? This other one, you know who, is coming into the race, you’ll see. And that one, too, with the big personal bankroll. Just watch.

Take a break. Look at a century or so of New York State history. The only State Attorney General elected Governor? Eliot Spitzer. No one else. Lieutenant Governors? Most who became governor completed terms of governors who flew the coop. State Comptrollers? A few. Members of Congress–including Hugh Carey considered among our greatest governors–more than the single attorney general.

Consultants are saying they know and you’d better know. The strategy is so obvious. Rattle the Hochul world. Tell everyone a woman from western New York can’t win even though Hochul is the first woman Governor–no matter how she got there– in state history. Call notables, unions, funders. Use that dumb cliché: the train’s leaving that station. Better get a seat now. Or suffer the consequences. After all, she can’t continue at this pace. Hochul will slow down, make a big error. You’ll see.

There are some things hustling fast talk phone calls can’t hush. Like facts. The sole elected governor who hailed from Brooklyn–the State and New York city’s most populous county–in the last century? Congressmember Hugh Carey. He was not the choice of the conventional wisdom blabbing class. 

By the way: Former U.S. Rep and Lieutenant Governor Hochul is the second western New York native to reside in the Governor’s mansion. 

The election is nine months away, at least 100 eternities in politics. Hold onto the Hochul governor mansion eviction papers. History might force you to rip them up. 

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