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(Updates with quote from Wu, Census data, plans for support for Hochul)
ALBANY -- Democratic challenger for lieutenant governor Tim Wu said he and his running mate, Zephyr Teachout, are trying to mobilize New York’s growing Asian-American vote to beat Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s ticket.
“We’ll pull off the upset of the century,” Wu told reporters at a rally of union and social service advocates in Albany. Wu faces Cuomo’s choice for running mate, former Rep. Kathy Hochul of Buffalo.
“I think there is a lot of people dissatisfied with the Cuomo administration,” Wu said. “I also think my Chinese-American and Asian-American brothers and sisters are really interested in the possibility of having the first Asian-American statewide official and every time I go to Flushing, or other china towns in New York, the response has been incredibly enthusiastic.”
The U.S. Census Bureau reported more than 1.4 million Asians in the state, a figure that has grown to over 7 percent of the state population.
Asian-Americans in New York turned out to vote at a rate of 86 percent in 2012, which was a higher rate than the national average, according to the Asian American Justice Center, Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote, and National Asian American Survey.
Hochul was expected to be endorsed Friday by Asian-American politicians and community leaders, according to an official close to the campaign.
Wu said he’s prepared to serve as an independent public advocate should he and Cuomo win in the Sept. 9 primary. That would create a Cuomo-Wu ticket for the November elections.
“I anticipate it will be a challenging relationship, but I am prepared to stand my ground,” Wu said.
He also said he’s prepared to step in as governor should it be vacated while he’s lieutenant governor. He said he’s ready to fill the job if Cuomo leaves office in a second term “one way or another.”
Cuomo’s supporters say he may run for president in 2016 and Wu, a Columbia Law professor, said he believes Cuomo and his administration may have committed crimes in dealing with the Moreland Commission on public corruption.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara is investigating the commission, which Cuomo shuttered this year. News reports have accused Cuomo through his top aide, Lawrence Schwartz, of interfering with the commission as it considered issuing subpoenas to Cuomo’s big donors and to a firm his campaign uses. Cuomo has said his administration merely provided necessary advice to the commission.
The lieutenant governor’s role has traditionally supported the governor and represented him and his views at public events. Wu has said he would be independent, and use the bully pulpit of the office to provide alternative views. He also said he would try to expand the role of lieutenant governor as president of the Senate, which has mostly been a ceremonial role. But in the case of at least some tie votes, the lieutenant governor can cast the deciding vote.
Statewide polls so far have shown few voters are following the issue and Cuomo maintains a huge lead over Teachout and Republican candidate Rob Astorino.