Thu. Nov 17th, 2022

As New York’s Lieutenant-Governor, Kathy Hochul has spent years on the road as the friendly face of the administration, visiting the far-flung coffee shops and factory floors of each of the state’s 62 counties for countless ribbon-cutting ceremonies and civic cheerleading events.
Now, with Governor Andrew Cuomo’s resignation over sexual harassment allegations on Tuesday (local time), her next stop is the state Capitol in Albany.
Ms Hochul will become the state’s first female governor once Mr Cuomo’s resignation is effective in two weeks.
“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,” she said.
From the shadows into the spotlight
Ms Hochul became Lieutenant-Governor of New York in 2015.(AP: Seth Wenig/File
Ms Hochul, 62, is an experienced politician and a veteran of 11 campaigns that have taken her from town board to Congress.
A steelworker’s daughter and a lawyer, Ms Hochul worked in Washington as an aide to New York politicians before holding her first public office on the town board in Hamburg, near Buffalo.
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From there, she became Erie County Clerk.
Next, the centrist Democrat moved to Congress after a surprising win in a 2011 special election in a district that had been in Republican hands for decades.
She lost to Republican Chris Collins the next year despite an endorsement by the National Rifle Association.
When Mr Cumo tapped her as his running mate in 2014, Ms Hochul shifted politically to the left.
Since becoming Lieutenant-Governor in 2015, Ms Hochul has chaired 10 economic development councils that invest in projects across the state.
She has also co-chaired a task force to combat heroin and opioid abuse, and led Mr Cuomo’s “Enough is Enough” campaign in 2015 to combat sexual assault on college campuses.
She backed New York’s SAFE Act, one of the nation’s toughest gun control laws, as well as the state’s Green Light Law, which let unauthorised immigrants get driver’s licenses.
Ms Hochul has worked deep in Mr Cuomo’s shadow for her two terms in office and was not part of Mr Cuomo’s inner circle of aides and allies.
She was almost never present at Mr Cuomo’s much-publicised briefings at the start of the coronavirus crisis.
To many New Yorkers, Ms Hochul is an unknown quantity, having spent years in a job that is mostly ceremonial.
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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has resigned over a barrage of sexual harassment allegations.
Last week, Ms Hochul joined the chorus of politicians denouncing the Governor after an independent investigation concluded he had sexually harassed 11 women while in office.
“The AG’s investigation has documented repulsive and unlawful behaviour by the Governor towards multiple women,” she wrote on Twitter.
“I believe these brave women and admire their courage coming forward.”
After Mr Cuomo announced his decision to step down, Ms Hochul called it “the right thing to do and in the best interest of New Yorkers”.
Her name wasn’t mentioned in the investigative report released by Attorney-General Letitia James that detailed not only the harassment allegations against Mr Cuomo but also efforts by his staff to discredit some of his accusers.
Investigators concluded that Mr Cuomo and his aides created a “toxic” and “hostile” workplace in an office gripped by bullying, fear and intimidation.
What’s been said about her?
The Mayor of New York City and the state’s two senators and Attorney-General have all backed Ms Hochul.(AP: Mark Lennihan/File
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has a famously contentious relationship with Mr Cuomo, said he’s gotten to know Ms Hochul over the last few years and “she strikes me as a very reasonable person”.
“I believe if Kathy Hochul becomes governor, she’ll be an honest broker,” he said.
“We’ll be able to work together.”
She has received votes of confidence from Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Senator Charles Schumer, and from numerous elected officials and others in New York including Attorney-General Letitia James, who oversaw the investigation.
“Lieutenant-Governor Kathy Hochul will be an extraordinary governor,” Ms Gillibrand said.
“She understands the complexities and needs of our state, having been both a congresswoman and having been Lieutenant-Governor for the last several years.”
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Former Erie County Democratic Chairman Len Lenihan, a longtime ally in western New York, called her promotion “a happy ending to a very sad situation” and said few people have been as prepared for the office as she is.
Eight states currently have female governors and Ms Hochul has not publicly expressed whether she would pursue a full term as governor from 2022, when Mr Cuomo’s term was due to expire.
An upstate candidate running for any statewide office in New York faces a daunting challenge, but even more so for the governor’s office, which has historically drawn from New York City.
In Buffalo, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz worked alongside Ms Hochul when he was county comptroller and she was Erie County Clerk.
He said he saw Ms Hochul easily stepping into the governor’s office.
“I know she has the work ethic, determination, and skill set to not only succeed as governor but to take the Empire State to new heights,” he said.