Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday that he was resigning from his position, leaving the question of who will fill the position once he leaves office.
Cuomo announced his resignation following New York Attorney General Letitia James’ report that found he had sexually harassed multiple women and subjected them to inappropriate touching and sexually charged comments. The report also found that he had participated in a pressure campaign to keep the women quiet, and James said that the governor had broken both state and federal law but would not be charged.
Now all eyes are on 62-year-old Kathy Hochul, who is poised to replace Cuomo once his resignation becomes effective in 14 days and become the first female governor of New York. Cuomo praised her during his resignation announcement Tuesday.
“Kathy Hochul, my lieutenant governor, is smart and competent,” he said. “This transition must be seamless. We have a lot going on. I’m very worried about the delta variant, and so should you be, but she can come up to speed quickly.”
Hochul said in a statement that Cuomo’s decision to leave office was “the right thing to do” and said that she was “prepared to lead as New York State’s 57th governor.”
I agree with Governor Cuomo’s decision to step down. It is the right thing to do and in the best interest of New Yorkers.
As someone who has served at all levels of government and is next in the line of succession, I am prepared to lead as New York State’s 57th Governor.
— Kathy Hochul (@LtGovHochulNY) August 10, 2021
Hochul joined Cuomo’s team in 2014 and took on the role of lieutenant governor – but she failed to appear by his side during his coronavirus news briefings and wasn’t mentioned in his book, while other top aides were, the New York Times reported. (RELATED: UNC Journalism Dean Explicitly Called For Sidelining ‘Diversity Of Thought’ In Memo To Chancellor)
Abortion groups like Emily’s list and the National Abortion Rights Action League endorsed Hochul, who helped Cuomo introduce the Reproductive Health Act in January of 2019. The National Rifle Association (NRA) has been a long-time enemy of Cuomo, but in 2012 the group backed Hochul and praised her “strong support” for the Second Amendment.
Since the AG report, Hochul has kept a low profile. The Times reported that she canceled her events last week and declined to be interviewed by the paper, but had still been preparing for the transition in the event of Cuomo’s resignation.
Liz Krueger, a state senator from Manhattan, told the New York Times that Huchul had “assured me that she was ready to take over if that was what was required of her.” New York state Sen. Timothy Kennedy, who has known Hochul for more than 20 years, said that she “is in the process of preparing to assume the governor’s seat.”
The Times described Hochul and Cuomo’s relationship as “largely transactional,” but added that Hochul distanced herself from the governor once sexual harassment allegations came to light. A senior official told the outlet that the two have not spoken since February.
Hochul said in a statement that Cuomo’s behavior was “repulsive and unlawful” but added that “because lieutenant governors stand in the line of succession, it would not be appropriate to comment further.”
Hochul did not immediately respond to a request for comment.