It shouldn’t have to fall to me.

I shouldn’t have to be the one who stands up to defend Kathy Hochul. 

It should be Andrew Cuomo. It should be his money, it should be his prestige, it should be his responsibility.

But on the subject of the woman he chose to be his lieutenant governor, she’s missing in action. After ordering her into seclusion to avoid a distraction to his re-coronation, shifting political sands and an attack from the progressives have left her vulnerable.

And that puts him in the uncomfortable situation of her potentially falling in a Democratic primary and he being left with different running mates on different tickets. Yesterday the New York City papers were speculating that if she loses in the primary, Cuomo could dump her into a judgeship somewhere to have rid of her.

All this has the progressives howling like wolves who smell blood. 

Kathy Hochul has become their lightning rod.

And that sucks.

And it says more about their close-minded demand for orthodoxy than it does about her centrist philosophy. In the state Andrew Cuomo said he wants to make “the progressive capital of the nation,” Kathy Hochul’s blood isn’t quite blue enough to satisfy the liberal elites.

Here’s the background. 

She’s a well-educated lawyer who’s been a progressive activist since college. As a young woman, she worked for Democrats in the House of Representatives, the United States Senate, and the New York state Assembly.

And then, 20 years ago, she sought and achieved elective office in her own right – as a Democrat. She was elected to town and county office, and then to Congress.

And typically she did so with the cross-endorsement of the ultra-liberal Working Families Party.

And when she was ultimately defeated at re-election, it was because she was a supporter of the progressive policies of Barack Obama. 

For all of her adult life, Kathy Hochul has been a Democrat. She has campaigned for Democrats, she has donated to Democrats. She’s even done the token anti-Wal-Mart crap that progressives have to do. She has been elected and re-elected as a Democrat.

And now a bunch of progressives from the Central Committee decide that she’s not Democrat enough. 

Why?

Because as a leader of the state county clerks’ association she stood with dozens of other clerks against drivers licenses for illegal aliens. Because as a county clerk responsible for processing pistol permits, she did. Because as a representative of one of the most Republican congressional districts in the Northeast she balanced her philosophy with constituents’ wishes.

Because she has lived her life realizing that her opinion isn’t the only one that matters. 

To declare Kathy Hochul “not Democrat enough” is to subscribe to an exclusionary and fascist progressivism that empowers a tiny knot of zealots as the lone arbiters of power in an overwhelmingly Democrat state. Attacking her because her brand of liberalism isn’t exactly the Manhattan brand is almost Orwellian.

And it ticks me off.

Not because I’m voting for her – I’m not – but because it’s not fair to her.

And because it trivializes the great strength that Kathy Hochul brings to elective office – she is a good person. She is decent and kind and has integrity. She is also open and approachable and cordial, even in disagreement. 

She is actually a person of substance and achievement. I have seen her knock doors and talk to strangers, and make friends with people who weren’t going to vote for her. As a conservative talk show host, I have pounded her on the air over her progressive policies. As a constituent, I voted for her once and against her once. I’ve disagreed with her and agreed with her, but I’ve always liked her and respected her and trusted her. If I were a Democrat, I’d be thrilled to have her represent my party.

And it honestly just ticks me off that progressive prigs in little crevices of the state are trying to kick her off the ballot.

She is a better person than they are, and she is a better Democrat than they are. And should she be elected, she would be a better servant of the people than they could ever hope to be.

Because that’s what this really boils down to. It’s not some parlor game of the progressive power barons, it’s not a test of Cuomo’s pharaoh-like grip on the state, it’s not a preview of 2016 – it’s a means to select the leaders of arguably the most troubled and dysfunctional state in the nation.

New York is in crisis, even the Democrats’ unwavering bloc of two-thirds of the state’s voters knows that. 

And as the only party with a say in New York makes its decision, it is throwing away a capable lifelong leader in favor of some college-faculty liberal, in part because some say Kathy Hochul as a white woman is not “diverse” enough.

And she might lose.

Which is a reality the Democrats should ponder.

Because when you’ve got a sitting governor who’s under active criminal investigation by a federal grand jury, and you’re one indictment away from another Client Nine, maybe it’s a good idea to have a lieutenant governor who could actually govern.

That would be Kathy Hochul.

I’m not voting for her, but I’m proud to speak for her.