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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

News of Cuomo's running mate overtakes 2 big nominations

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivers his annual

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivers his annual State of the State address at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014, in Albany. Credit: AP / Mike Groll

Delegates and guests at the state Democratic convention in Melville realize that this is Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's world and they are renting space in it.

The governor's announcement, by video, of ex-Rep. Kathy Hochul from Erie County as his running mate quickly overtook the nominations of Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman at the top of the day's news from the Huntington Hilton.

His face suddenly filled the giant video screen behind the dais, Oz-like. He smiled and greeted the audience, and as the camera frame widened, there was Hochul, seated alongside him. "I am proud to join the governor as a voice for the communities of upstate New York," she said.

Before that, the soon-to-be-former Lt. Gov. Robert J. Duffy spoke and delivered a gush of parting praise for his boss.

The governor whose domain this is appears in person Thursday. In his absence Wednesday, Cuomo had his name moved by acclamation, in advance, to declare him the convention designee for re-election.

"He's a Queens boy and we're here to make sure he gets re-elected," said Michael Reich, executive secretary of the Queens Democratic Committee and state committee counsel.

Later, Reich also pushed through the tabling of resolutions that could work against Cuomo's immediate interests. Ever so carefully, Nassau Democratic chairman Jay Jacobs sponsored one such measure -- calling for Cuomo to reject the Independence Party line and thus possibly kill that party's automatic ballot status for four years.

Before urging the resolution be voted up on the floor, Jacobs said, "I stand in second place to no one when it comes to supporting the governor," and, "I've raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for him and personally donated far more money than I'd like my wife to find out about."

Then Jacobs argued that Independence endorsements would hurt Democratic efforts to reclaim control of the State Senate. Yet moments later, ex-state chairman Jacobs -- in the new role of dissident -- assured opponents he would not object to a motion to table the resolution.

They did so -- based on Reich's ruling on a voice vote.

Cuomo also selected as the party's new state chairman ex-Gov. David A. Paterson (whose office Cuomo once investigated as attorney general). That keeps the post in the hands of a Democrat from Harlem; Assemb. Keith Wright (D-Manhattan) said he's completed the two years to which he was committed in the job.

There were early signs Paterson would stay on message chairing the incumbent party over which any governor effectively holds sway. Although he once led the State Senate Democrats, for example, Paterson suggested to reporters he wasn't persuaded this would be the year Democrats took over the Senate. Such a change isn't believed to be on Cuomo's priority list.

Then again, Paterson has never been known as the most disciplined of public speakers. That could make his new part-time role under Cuomo interesting if he strays, as one might expect, from the lockstep messaging of Cuomo's world.

"So you thought you were rid of me," Paterson said as he took to the rostrum.

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