Cuomo critic Bill Samuels, son of New York City OTB founder Howard Samuels — who ran for governor in 1974, losing the Democratic primary to Hugh Carey — told associates over the weekend that he’s furious that Cuomo selected Hochul, a bank lobbyist, whom he described as “out of step with the progressive reforms this state needs,’’ one source told The Post.
Samuels, 71, who told an associate that he’s “99 percent certain to run” against Hochul in the September primary, has already begun planning a campaign built around appeals to Mayor de Blasio’s core supporters: labor unions, left-of-center activists and African-American and Hispanic voters, the source said.
Asked by The Post if he was preparing to run against Hochul, Samuels — who has raised millions of dollars for state Senate Democrats and created a stir in March when he said Cuomo, 56, should run for re-election as a Republican because he’s helped re-elect Senate Republicans — responded, “I’m giving extremely serious thought to it.’’
Samuels told associates that he’ll make a final decision within a week, when the petitioning process for the primaries will be under way.
A well-financed Samuels challenge to Hochul, a virtual unknown in heavily Democratic New York City who ran for Congress with the backing of the National Rifle Association, could upend Cuomo’s re-election strategy by dividing state Democrats, exacerbating racial tensions and forcing the governor to spend his campaign funds on Hochul’s behalf.
Bronx state Sen. Ruben Diaz, a socially conservative Democrat whose son, Ruben Jr., is Bronx borough president, publicly ripped Hochul last week for her high-profile opposition as Erie County clerk to then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s plan in 2007 to grant driver’s licenses to illegal “undocumented’’ aliens.
“You should know that Kathleen Hochul . . . is a well-known professional advocate against immigrants. Does anyone believe that she will support the DREAM Act that we in New York State’s Democratic community are fighting for?’’ Diaz asked.
“Our community has been slapped by Governor Cuomo twice: first, that no minority has been selected to serve with him at the top of the ticket; and second, that a person who adamantly opposes immigration rights was selected to serve in that slot,’’ Diaz continued.
Two Democratic strategists contacted by The Post said a serious race by Samuels against Hochul could be successful because of the widely chronicled unhappiness with Cuomo by left-of-center unions and party activists.
Samuels is not only a threat to Hochul — his candidacy could seriously threaten Cuomo’s hopes of winning a landslide victory against GOP challenger Rob Astorino in November.
That’s because the governor is counting on votes cast for the Democrats’ Cuomo/Hochul ticket being bolstered by votes for the same ticket that was approved last week by the Independence Party and expected to be approved this week by the Working Families Party.
However, if Samuels is able to defeat Hochul in the Democratic primary, the opposite would be the case.
A Cuomo/Hochul ticket endorsed by the Independence and Working Families parties would not count toward the vote total received by the Cuomo/Samuels ticket running on the Democratic line and would, in fact, serve to siphon votes away from a victorious Cuomo’s total.