When Kathy Hochul served in Congress, she received an A rating from the National Rifle Association. As the Erie County clerk, she took a hard line on undocumented immigrants, pledging to inform the local sheriff about anyone who arrived at her office without valid papers.
Now Ms. Hochul is running for lieutenant governor on the ticket with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, and on Wednesday she received her biggest and most unlikely endorsement yet: from Mayor Bill de Blasio, the liberal leader of New York City, who pronounced her “a true progressive.”
“I’m proud to support Kathy,” Mr. de Blasio said, as Ms. Hochul stood by his side.
If Ms. Hochul was not exactly an obvious choice for Mr. de Blasio, who is a staunch supporter of immigrants’ rights, she was certainly a pragmatic one, at least by the standards of New York’s complex political scene.
Mr. Cuomo, a centrist Democrat, has repeatedly tried to thwart some of Mr. de Blasio’s liberal policies. Yet the mayor has continued to offer himself as a liberal surrogate for the governor, whose support in Albany will ultimately be necessary if the mayor wants to enact other ideas like raising the city’s minimum wage.
With the primary for governor next Tuesday, Mr. Cuomo could benefit from a de Blasio boost: The governor’s re-election is being challenged by two liberal law professors, Zephyr Teachout and Tim Wu, whose insurgent campaign has gained some momentum recently. Mr. Wu has received some prominent endorsements in the race for lieutenant governor, including one on Wednesday from The New York Observer. (The New York Times endorsed him last week.)
So it was that Mr. de Blasio — along with liberal members of the City Council, including the speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito — gathered with Ms. Hochul outside City Hall. Mr. de Blasio listed numerous reasons to support Ms. Hochul, including her opposition to a Walmart store in her district and her support of the Affordable Care Act.
Asked why he was not supporting Mr. Wu, whose liberal views hew more closely to his own, Mr. de Blasio said Ms. Hochul had more experience. “I don’t know Tim Wu at all, to be honest with you,” he said.
Ms. Hochul first gained political prominence in 2007, when she became a leading opponent of a state plan to provide driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants — an idea similar to the municipal identification cards for immigrants that Mr. de Blasio and the City Council passed earlier this year.
Pressed on those views, Ms. Hochul said her stance on immigration had been a matter of national security. “You need to understand my proximity to four international borders, where there could be terrorist threats coming into the United States,” she said. (Erie County borders Ontario.)
Mr. de Blasio did not address Ms. Hochul’s position on immigration, and he did not respond to a question asked after the news conference about the difference between his views and hers.
Ms. Hochul said she believed New York City had the right to institute a municipal ID program, although she did not say explicitly whether she favored the plan. She said she also supported the Dream Act, legislation that would grant state tuition aid to undocumented immigrants.
Javier Valdes, who leads the immigrants’ rights group Make the Road, said Ms. Hochul told advocates this summer that “she would be willing to move on the issues of immigration that we care about.”
“It was not like we all came out of that meeting saying we agreed with her completely, but we understood each other better,” said Mr. Valdes, whose group has endorsed Ms. Hochul.
The Teachout campaign, for its part, rolled out its own endorsement on Wednesday: Mark Ruffalo, the actor and environmental advocate, who has called on Mr. Cuomo to ban hydrofracking.
Mr. Ruffalo said it was “a little shocking” that Mr. de Blasio, whom he called “one of the great liberal politicians in the United States,” was backing Ms. Hochul.
“He made a commitment to support that ticket a while ago,” Mr. Ruffalo said, “and I think he’s probably a man of his word.”
Correction: September 3, 2014
An earlier version of a picture caption with this article misstated when Mayor Bill de Blasio appeared with Kathy Hochul. It was Wednesday, not last week.