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"Every time I talk to this Caucus and remind them about the importance of stating our support for Medicare, I use Kathy Hochul as Exhibit A," Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel (N.Y.) said.
First-term Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii), who was happy to see the ranks of the Democratic freshman class increase with Hochul's arrival, said, "If there's any lesson you can say you learned from Kathy, it's that — it's to stay on message."
As a Democrat in a Republican-leaning district, Hochul is already a political target. If the district alone didn't prove enough of a challenge, she faces the threat that her district could be erased entirely by the redistricting process. New York must shed two seats because of reapportionment. Aware of the challenges ahead, she had raised more than $1.8 million, as of June 30, since launching her campaign in early March.
While Republicans will seek to make Hochul a one-term wonder, the uncertainty of her political future has allowed her to operate with a unique sense of freedom that could actually give her an electoral boost, one Democratic aide suggested.
"Her main brand for the foreseeable future is going to be authentic, and that can go a really long way, especially when who knows what the political future is going to look like in New York," the aide said.
Hochul, who forged a few Republican friendships after playing in the Congressional Women's Softball Game just weeks after being sworn into office, is also no stranger to Capitol Hill. She was legal counsel for former Rep. John LaFalce (D-N.Y.) and worked for the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.).
"I hope I'll live to see another day in 2012," she said. "Until then, we should leave our differences checked at the door, go out and play some softball, have a beer and treat each other like human beings with respect."