Over the last several days, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul has met with officials in New York City who have feuded with outgoing Gov. Andrew Cuomo, ran against her, and did some retail politicking at a county fair back home in western New York.
The tour seems designed in large to telegraph to New York that she will be different from her predecessor, who is leaving office under the cloud of scandal and, well, generally disliked by the political establishment in the state, which is no longer afraid to say so on the record.
Hochul on Monday met with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, and her office released a photo of the two beaming over a plate of baked goods.
"We had a productive conversation today discussing issues that are important to New Yorkers, from fighting the Delta variant to getting our kids back to school safely this fall to keeping our communities safe," Hochul and de Blasio said in a joint statement. "We look forward to working with each other to continue New York City's recovery and end the fight against COVID."
Hochul and de Blasio won't have to spend too much time working together as the mayor sets to leave office at the end of the year. But the mere display of an incoming governor meeting with a New York City mayor -- one her predecessor has derided and has been accused of undermining over the last year eight years -- was striking.
At the same time, Hochul on Monday sought to show she's willing to work with rivals of her own. She met privately with New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, a Democrat who ran against her in 2018 and may be a rival once again in the 2022 gubernatorial race. Williams has been mentioned as a potential wild card choice for lieutenant governor.
Their conversation also focused on COVID-19 and the pandemic, as well as an issue key for progressives: Ensuring money for undocumented immigrants who were not covered by federal relief payments for the pandemic receive state support. Hochul also wants to expedite aid for renters and landlords.
"These must and will be immediate priorities of this new administration," they said in a statement.
This still remains a honeymoon period with less than a week to go before Hochul is even sworn in as governor. Bumps in the road surely lay ahead with the Legislature, with the inherent tensions between a governor and mayor of New York City even when egos are part aside.
Assemblyman Ron Kim, a vocal critic of Cuomo's who was on the receiving end of what turned into an ultimately damaging phone call for the governor, in a statement on Monday urged Hochul to take a far more transparent approach on reporting nursing home deaths.
Hochul's new administration should hand over all nursing home data from the Department of Health and communications between Health Commissioner Howard Zucker and the consulting firm McKinsey. He called on Hochul to issue a "full pledge" her office will comply with Freedom of Information Law requests. And he wants full compliance from department heads in future oversight hearings held by the Legislature.
We have a small window to assure the public that we are clearing out the corrupt vestiges of the former administration and holding all accountable for their actions," Kim said. "Let’s use it.”