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Cuomo running mate visits Fresh Meadows

By Sarina Trangle

Fresh Meadows’ legislators envision Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s running mate finding green pastures in their eastern Queens district.

With the Democratic primary approaching, City Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) and state Assembly members Michael Simanowitz (D-Flushing) and Nily Rozic (D-Flushing) dined with Cuomo’s lieutenant governor pick, Kathy Hochul, in a Main Street cafe and introduced her to passers-by last week.

The candidate touted her support of a tax credit for those who donate to schools — including parochial schools — and allegiance to Israel while the Jewish enclave prepared for its sabbath.

The lawmakers introduced Hochul, a former congresswoman, as the next lieutenant governor with an air of confidence. They touted her experience in Congress, described her as an independent woman and fielded inquires on the fallout of Cuomo’s reported tampering with an ethics panel.

But when foot traffic and handshaking slowed, they also cautioned the district had gone Republican in national elections.

“They vote Democratic locally, but this is a community that voted very heavily for Romney,” Lancman told Hochul as he guided her in and out of flower, candy and clothing shops and pointed out the first kosher store on the block: Brach’s Glatt.

Hochul jokingly referred to herself as a walking chamber of commerce as reporters watched her greet entrepreneurs and managers.

She repeatedly mentioned her campaigning across the state, despite early media reports suggesting she may be refraining from the limelight because of conservative moves made while she was in Congress and working as a county clerk.

Hochul opposed former Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s bid to give driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants while a county clerk and garnered top ratings from gun advocates while serving as Buffalo’s congresswoman.

The candidate said many in Queens had asked where she stood on the Dream Act, which would allow undocumented youth who graduate from high schools in New York to apply for financial aid for college.

“I support it 1,000 percent, as does the governor,” Hochul said. “Every child in this country, who comes here or is born here or whatever their circumstance is, they have to have the same shot at the American Dream. The affordability of education is that barrier and we’ve got to break down that barrier.”

She was less clear when asked about the availability of municipal ID cards regardless of a citizen’s immigration status.

“I’m very respectful of the separation of offices,” she said, declining to elaborate on whether she supported the city’s incoming ID or other municipalities’ following its lead.

Hochul and the trio of Queens electeds said few in the borough cared about Cuomo’s dealings with the Moreland Commission and U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s investigation into whether he illegally tampered with its work.

“We’re very concerned about what’s going on in Israel,” she said. “That’s what I’m hearing about — jobs, economic opportunity, education, affordable housing.”

Reach reporter Sarina Trangle at 718-260-4546 or by e-mail at strangle@cnglocal.com.

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