Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney on Her Former Tenant: Kathy Hochul

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When Kathy Hochul unexpectedly won a special election to Congress a decade ago, she needed a place to stay in Washington, D.C., on short notice. Fortunately, she could count on Carolyn Maloney.

The Manhattan congresswoman hosted a pair of fundraisers for Hochul’s bid for the western New York seat in the spring of 2011, including one at her Upper East Side home, and she called then-U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to bolster Hochul’s campaign coffers.

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“I read about her and she reminded me of me,” Maloney said about Hochul. “Everybody said she couldn’t win. She sounded eminently qualified. She had all these accomplishments, was a big supporter of women, children and families, so why can’t this woman win?”

The race was a safe Republican seat and Hochul’s win was seen as a referendum on Medicare after Republicans, who had taken power in the 2010 midterms, proposed slashing $5 trillion in health care spending. But senior citizens comprised a fifth of the district — situated between Buffalo and Rochester — and Hochul made opposition to Medicare cuts a hallmark of her campaign. She upset Republican Jane Corwin 48 to 42 percent.

Once Hochul got to Washington, Maloney kept looking out for. She let the freshman crash on a bed in her office on the third floor of her D.C. townhouse.

“I show up and I did not have a place to live. Carolyn Maloney had embraced my candidacy and said, ‘Well, you’ve got to live somewhere, you can live with me,’” Hochul later said in a speech about the experience. “So, I shared a bedroom with Carolyn Maloney, and it turns out she’s got other people in the house, a bunch of these women.”

Maloney had famously purchased a newly built townhouse in 2005 for $1.5 million just southeast of the U.S. Capitol building, renting three rooms to Democratic colleagues for $1,100 a month, The New York Times reported in 2011. 

The three-story, Neo-Victorian featured hardwood floors, wood shutters, and a shared laundry room across the street from a small park. Maloney’s tenants included Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Florida Democratic congresswoman who chaired the Democratic National Committee under President Barack Obama, and Terri Sewell, a Democrat from Alabama. 

“We called it the members moms house because all the members were moms,” Maloney said. “[Hochul] stayed there two to three months before she went and got her own place.”

Even though Hochul’s stay at the house was short, the pair bonded over late nights and takeout dinners. They also shared a bathroom and managed to stay friends.

“I remember when we were brushing our teeth and getting ready to go early in the morning, she would discuss challenges about health care,” Maloney said. “I know firsthand how hard she works and I know she will be effective.”

In less than a week, Hochul will be moving from a $485,000 three-bedroom condo in Buffalo into much larger quarters with her own bathroom, once Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s resignation becomes official. Maloney, who spoke with Hochul last week, said the lieutenant governor is ready to lead the state.

“She’s going to be terrific,” Maloney said. “She has a plan, will be very collaborative. And she’ll have sharp focus on issues of women, children and families, while making sure New York has state-of-the-art infrastructure. That’s what New Yorkers want.”