Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s selection of ex-Rep. Kathy Hochul raised eyebrows in part due to her past conservative stancse on some key issues – including immigration.

Hochul gained statewide recognition in 2007 when, as Erie County clerk, she very publicly opposed then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s proposal to allow undocumented immigrants get a driver’s license This dust-up occurred shortly after Spitzer appointed Hochul to fill the clerk’s post, (a vacancy created when he appointed her predecessor, David J. Swarts, to be DMV commissioner), and she was running in a special election to keep the job.

At the time, Hochul pledged that anyone seeking a license office with a foreign passport that lacked a valid visa stamp, would have their named passed on by her office to the county sheriff as a possible violator of immigration law. She called the issue “a centerpiece” of her race for clerk – a race she handily won. She also highlighted her role in the driver’s license debate during her successful 2011 special election campaign for the seat vacated by former GOP Rep. Chris Lee.

Now, of course, Hochul is running to represent the entire state – including liberal New York City, where immigration is a major concern to key Democratic constituencies – and not one of the state’s most conservative counties (or congressional districts).

NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who is one of the most outspoken supporters of NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to grant municipal identification cards to immigrants, nominated Hochul at the Democratic convention on Long Island yesterday. The speaker said she had discussed immigration policy with Hochul prior to her speech at the Long Island Hilton, and expressed hope that the former congresswoman would follow the lead of another conservative congresswoman who “evolved” on key issues – from immigration to gun control – after being thrust unexpectedly into a statwide role.

She was speaking, of course, of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

Apparently, Hochul is already taking Mark-Viverito’s words to heart.

During a campaign stop in Amherst today, the governor and Hochul were asked for their respective positions on the DREAM Act, which would help the children of undocumented immigrants access state funding for college. Cuomo, who has been criticized by some DREAM Act advocates for failing to push hard enough on this issue (which has passed the Assembly, but died on the Senate floor in March), reiterated his support for the measure. And Hochul echoed that sentiment, saying:

“I also support the DREAM Act because I think there’s no way we should be penalizing children who have been in our grade schools, our high schools, and now we want to make sure they have an education so they can become productive taxpaying members of the state of New York and that’s a very good outcome.”

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