- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 10, 2021

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat who will become the state’s first female governor, served two terms as the largely ceremonial understudy of Gov. Andrew Cuomo until a sexual harassment scandal brought him down.

Ms. Hochul, 62, has held public office at the local, state and federal levels, starting with a 14-year stint on the town board of Hamburg, New York. As Mr. Cuomo protested his innocence against the harassment accusations, Ms. Hochul left no doubt where she stood.

“I believe these brave women,” she said, calling Mr. Cuomo’s behavior “repulsive and unlawful.”

Upon Mr. Cuomo’s resignation Tuesday, Ms. Hochul said it was “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,” she said.

Ms. Hochul is known as a retail politician who takes pride in traveling to all 62 counties in New York, meeting with everyone including farmers and shopkeepers. Her reputation is one of low-profile competence and accessibility.

She‘s a proven leader,” said Syracuse resident Dennis Heaphy.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, New York Democrat, said Ms. Hochul “will be an extraordinary governor.”

She understands the complexities and needs of our state, having been a congresswoman, and having been lieutenant governor for the last several years,” Ms. Gillibrand told reporters. “I look forward to supporting her and helping her as she turns towards governing our state in a very difficult and challenging time.”

State Assembly member Chris Tague, Schoharie County Republican, said he was impressed that Ms. Hochul had criticized Mr. Cuomo over his sexual harassment.

“I was happy to see that she didn’t play politics and just came out with a statement that she was very critical of the governor’s actions. It takes some courage to do that,” Mr. Tague said in an interview. “She seems to be very well-respected in our [district]. I give her the benefit of the doubt.”

Former Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster, a Democrat, said in a Twitter statement that Ms. Hochul was motivated to run for lieutenant governor by “duty to serve, not any personal ambition.”

He said “no one could be better suited” to become New York’s first female governor.

In his televised resignation announcement, Mr. Cuomo called Ms. Hochul “smart and competent.”

“This transition must be seamless,” he said. “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.”

New York state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins is set to take on the lieutenant governor’s duties once Ms. Hochul becomes governor. Ms. Hochul eventually will appoint her own successor.

She called Tuesday “a somber day” but said Ms. Hochul is a “dedicated leader” with whom she would work to continue tackling the COVID-19 pandemic and rebuilding the economy. 

Ms. Hochul will become an early favorite for the Democratic nomination for governor next year now that Mr. Cuomo has given up on seeking a fourth term. Another potential candidate is Democratic state Attorney General Letitia James, whose investigation into the sexual harassment accusations spelled the end for Mr. Cuomo’s tenure.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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