LANCASTER, N.Y. – Democratic Lieutenant Governor candidate Kathy Hochul defended her Congressional voting record at a campaign event in Lancaster on Thursday, downplaying The New York Times' editorial decision this week to officially endorse her primary opponent.
Hochul, running against Columbia Law professor Tim Wu in a primary race independent of the Democratic primary for Governor, has attempted to reaffirm her positions on several issues after the Times criticized her for a "willingness to shift politically." In their endorsement of Wu, the newspaper wrote that Hochul "has a deeply troubling record on health reform, gun control and environmental deregulation," citing her stances a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives for the 26th District in Western New York.
"The people who know me best," Hochul said, "know my record of accomplishment."
Hochul's record on health care is under attack because she opposed parts of the Affordable Care Act during her tenure in the U.S. House of Representatives, and the editorial slammed her for receiving an endorsement from the National Rifle Association in 2012.
"She undoubtedly embraced those views to try to win re-election in a district that had become a stronghold for Republicans," the editorial board wrote.
On Thursday, Wu highlighted her voting record as an example of a political flip-flop, claiming it "should be considered disqualifying for someone who is seeking the nomination of the Democratic party in this state."
"I'm not buying that," Hochul said. "Nobody is."
Hochul explained that she only opposed certain portions of the Affordable Care Act, including the medical device tax. In 2012, she did vote against a bill to repeal the health care law and subsequently released a statement that said "I voted against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act because House leadership offered no alternative other than to return our country to a broken, unsustainable health care system." In that same statement, Hochul said she voted against the medical device tax because it unfairly burdened manufacturers.
"I stood up for the Affordable Care Act, but I also said many times that it needs to be fixed, there are certain components that need to be fixed. I never voted to repeal it," Hochul said. "I voted to repeal certain sections, so I believe that was taken out of context."
As for the National Rifle Association, Hochul said it was simply a matter of supporting Second Amendment rights for hunters and other gun owners.
"I have said all along, as a county clerk, one of my responsibilities was to issue pistol permits, make sure background checks were accomplished. I had relationships with the second amendment community because they were my constituents. And there's a lot of people up here who are sportsmen. People like to target practice and I want to make sure they know they have the right to continue those activities.
"Reasonable gun owners I talk to, the non-extremists on both sides, understand that those are not inconsistent positions. But they really represent the mainstream views of the areas I represented in Congress."
Wu challenged Hochul to a debate on Thursday, which she admitted was under consideration but not a guarantee.
"It's very important I do what I'm doing right now," Hochul said after the meet-and-greet in Lancaster, "and not be sitting in a studio."
"We're both Democrats," Wu said. "We should at least meet in person and have a debate."