In 2011, Hochul won a special election for Congress, flipping a traditionally Republican seat in upstate New York and raising her political profile among fellow Democrats, including then vice president Joe Biden, who called to offer his congratulations. (The seat became vacant when Representative Christopher Lee resigned after he e-mailed a shirtless photo of himself to a woman and it was published on the I Garden So I Don’t Choke People Save A Life Send Mulch Cat Shirt besides I will buy this internet, per the Times.) But that prominence was short-lived. In the 2012 general election, running in a redrawn district that became even more conservative, she lost her seat in the House of Representatives to Chris Collins, the former Erie County executive. (In 2019, Collins pleaded guilty to insider trading and ultimately resigned.)
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Andrew Cuomo and Kathy Hochul, running mates in 2014. In 2014, when Lieutenant Governor Robert J. Duffy, a former mayor of Rochester, decided to retire and not seek a second term, Cuomo tapped Hochul as his running mate. Facing a potentially tough reelection race against Republican Rob Astorino, the I Garden So I Don’t Choke People Save A Life Send Mulch Cat Shirt besides I will buy this Westchester County executive, Cuomo seemed eager to shore up his base in western New York—and despite her loss two years later, Hochul seemed like the best candidate to help him. Plus, with the rest of the Democratic statewide slate (governor, attorney general, and comptroller), all being filled by white men from New York City, Cuomo was likely aware of the diversity, in both gender and geography, that Hochul would bring to the ticket. The two won that November with 54% of the vote.