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Cuomo's Running Mate Could Face Democratic Primary Challenge

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Facing increasing pressure from his left flank, Governor Andrew Cuomo's running mate could face a Democratic primary challenge, as liberal activist Bill Samuels is seriously considering running against Kathy Hochul. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.

Once rumored to be considering a challenge to Governor Andrew Cuomo himself, Bill Samuels is now launching a not-so-friendly trial balloon against Cuomo's lieutenant governor candidate.

According to Samuels, it has nothing to do with Kathy Hochul of the Buffalo area and everything to do with Cuomo himself.

"There are certain policies, and clearly, his working with [state Senate Republican Conference Leader Dean] Skelos and the Republicans, not showing the correct enthusiasm for other Democrats, including [Attorney General Eric] Schneiderman and [State Comptroller Thomas] DiNapoli, upsets us."

Cuomo announced the selection of Hochul last week at the Democratic State Convention. Her outspoken views on immigration issues drew the ire of some progressives.

Others have rallied to Hochul's defense. On a Democratic slate that is all-white and mostly make, Hochul stands out.

"It's not productive for us in the Democratic tradition to have a fight about this, and that's why I discourage him," said Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer of Yonkers, N.Y. "I know him, I respect him, but now's not the time for sort of a symbolic fight."

Although he is angry with Cuomo, Samuels said he is prepared to work with the governor if he wins.

"I would have to be a lot more diplomatic than I am today," Samuels said. "Where he was really wrong, I would speak out. Where he was wrong, but I was better to play a role behind the scenes, I'd be respectful. And that's just something you have to handle as person to person."

Samuels' father, Howard, ran for governor in 1974 with Cuomo's father, Mario, as his running mate, but lost in a primary.

"This is a democracy. Anybody can run for anything, obviously, especially if you have the money. In this system, you can run for anything," Cuomo said. "So Kathy Hochul is clearly, in my opinion, the person with the qualifications and the experience."

The ultimate sign of disenchantment with Cuomo on the left could come this weekend, when the Working Families Party holds its convention in Albany. The party must decide whether to back Cuomo or a third-party candidate. Insiders say at this point, it's too close to call.

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