Governor Kathy Hochul Kathy is dedicated to public service

Original article by Kate Taylor of The New York Times

Allies of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced on Thursday that they were starting a new party to rally female voters, which would have its own ballot line in the November election — with Mr. Cuomo on it.

It was both a salvo directed at the Democratic governor’s Republican opponent in his run for re-election and a nose-thumbing to his critics on the left.

The announcement of the Women’s Equality Party was made on the Upper West Side of Manhattan by Mr. Cuomo’s running mate, former Representative Kathy Hochul, who was joined by a former chairwoman of the state Democratic Party and the leaders of two local women’s organizations, NOW-NYC and Naral Pro-Choice New York.

Saying that women’s rights were under attack by conservatives in Congress and on the Supreme Court, Ms. Hochul called on women in New York to rally together and show their strength by supporting the Women’s Equality ballot line.

“We will not tolerate elected officials who block our basic rights,” she said. “We will not stand to be treated like second-class citizens. And we will not allow our votes to be taken for granted. It is time women stand up and make our voices heard.”

Mr. Cuomo’s aides have long said that they plan to attack Rob Astorino, the Westchester County executive and Republican candidate for governor, over his opposition to abortion rights, which they say is out of step with the position of the vast majority of New Yorkers.

By focusing the campaign on women’s rights at a time when many women around the country are frustrated by the debates about contraception coverage and the recent Supreme Court decision in the case involving Hobby Lobby, the new ballot line may help Mr. Cuomo increase his edge among female voters.

In recent elections, women have made up 53 percent of New York voters, and statewide Democratic candidates have enjoyed as much as a two-to-one advantage among women, Bruce N. Gyory, a Democratic consultant who is not involved in the race, said.

“The more attention you can put on those issues, the more it’s likely to drive that gender gap into a gender gulch,” Mr. Gyory said, adding that the creation of the new ballot line was a good strategic move for Mr. Cuomo.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Astorino suggested that Mr. Cuomo was hypocritical in talking about women’s rights, given the sexual harassment scandals that have troubled the State Assembly, which Democrats lead.

“Governor Cuomo should be ashamed of himself for playing politics with women’s rights,” the spokeswoman, Jessica Proud, said.

If the new ballot line is primarily intended to hurt Mr. Astorino, it could have the added benefit for Mr. Cuomo of diminishing the number of votes cast for him in the general election on the Working Families Party line, assuming that there is a limited number of voters who will vote for the Democratic candidate on a non-Democratic party line. The Working Families Party had threatened to endorse someone else for governor, until Mr. Cuomo promised to support some of their goals, including shifting control of the State Senate back to the Democrats.
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The Senate, which is currently controlled by Republicans and a group of breakaway Democrats, was responsible last year for blocking the final plank in the Women’s Equality Act proposed by Mr. Cuomo, which would have codified in state law the right to abortion as established by Roe v. Wade.

Zephyr Teachout, an associate professor at Fordham Law School who is running against Mr. Cuomo in the Democratic primary, remarked upon that on Thursday, saying Mr. Cuomo had thwarted women’s rights by supporting the Republicans in the Senate.

“Governor Cuomo thinks he can buy women’s votes by cynically creating a new party to advertise values he hasn’t fought for in office,” she said in a statement. “A real Democrat would have already passed the Women’s Equality Act and would be fighting for paid family leave.”

Mr. Cuomo’s allies will have to gather 15,000 signatures to establish the new ballot line. Volunteers at the event were already armed with clipboards, and Ms. Hochul signed one sheet onstage.

Ms. Hochul has not appeared at a public event in weeks, and some journalists have accused her of being in hiding. Approaching a group of reporters to take questions after the event, she said, “Congratulations, you found me.”

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