Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-NY, affirmed his commitment to Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul as his running mate this fall, during a press availability Thursday in Buffalo. That is, if that’s what Hochul wants to do.

Cuomo did discuss a push this weekend to get the lieutenant governor to replace Democratic candidate Nate McMurray in New York’s 27th Congressional District. He repeatedly said Hochul would be the best candidate to defeat incumbent Republican Chris Collins, but indicated he did not initiate the effort to push her off his own ticket.

“It’s all flattery for Kathy. (House Minority Leader) Nancy Pelosi, (House Democratic Caucus Chair) Joe Crowley, I got calls from all across the nation asking me to ask Kathy to run but I always said it was Kathy’s decision,” he said.

The governor also denied drafting embattled former Empire State Development official Sam Hoyt, who has been accused of sexually harassing a state employee, to gauge McMurray’s interest in dropping out of the race.

“But there’s no secret that many, many people have been trying to get Kathy Hochul to run and many, many people have said Kathy Hochul would be the strongest candidate and many, many people say that she would be a stronger candidate than Nate McMurray,” he said.

Despite calling the issue moot, because Hochul has continually said she does not plan to run for Congress (and McMurray, for that matter, has said he won’t drop out), the governor certainly seemed to be talking up his lieutenant governor as a House of Representatives candidate. He said he is not worried about her prospects in a primary for lieutenant governor against Brooklyn Council Member Jumaane Williams.

“She’s a very strong candidate in any position,” Cuomo said. “This congressional seat is key.”

The governor said he made it his priority to elect Democratic candidates to Congress this year. The effort seems to have zeroed in on Republican members who voted in favor of the federal tax overhaul.

Cuomo said by capping deductions on state and local taxes at $10,000 those members hurt their constituents and put New York at a structural disadvantage when it tries to attract new businesses.