by Oleg Burunov
Andrew Cuomo currently faces impeachment proceedings as he is accused of sexually harassing at least 11 female colleagues, including younger individuals, in violation of state and federal law.
With New York Governor Andrew Cuomo facing more calls to resign following a sexual harassment scandal, the focus is now on Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul who is thought will succeed Cuomo if he stands down or is impeached.
Here’s a closer look into the woman who may become New York’s first female governor if she assumes office.
The 62-year-old self-described “independent Democrat”, who has served as Cuomo’s second-in-command since 2015, has had a long history pertaining to New York state politics.
Democrat Kathy Hochul is the current Lieutenant Governor of New York. pic.twitter.com/gCMkIZXxRH
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) August 3, 2021
Hochul earned her B.A. from Syracuse University in 1980 and a J.D. from the Catholic University of America four years later, before starting her political career as a legal counsel and legislative assistant to New York Representative John LaFalce, and then as a senatorial aide to the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
The year 1994 saw Hochul elected to the Hamburg Town Board in New York’s Erie County, where she served until she was appointed the Erie County Clerk in 2007.
In 2011, she became the first Democrat in 40 years to win the Republican-leaning 26th congressional district, boosting her political profile among colleagues, including then-VP Joe Biden, who extended his congratulations to Hochul in a phone call. In the 2012 general election, however, she lost her House of Representative seat to Chris Collins, a former Erie County executive.
Cuomo tapped Hochul as his running mate in 2014, when then-Lieutenant Governor Robert J. Duffy moved to retire. After obtaining 54% of the vote in the November 2014 election, Hochul managed to succeed in her re-election bid four years later as she got the better of Jumaane Williams, a three-term New York City councilman.
As lieutenant governor, Hochul has repeatedly promoted women’s health and safety, also becoming a proponent of New York state’s “Enough Is Enough” legislation, aimed at fighting sexual assault on college campuses.
Hochul’s duties during the COVID-19 pandemic included her acting as a local liaison across New York and meeting officials in 62 counties as well as conducting local media interviews.
Under Cuomo, she chaired 10 regional economic development councils dealing with investments for projects in New York and the State Workforce Investment Board. Additionally, Cuomo appointed Hochul as co-chair of the Heroin and Opioid Abuse Task Force.
The lieutenant governor’s allies have repeatedly touted her as somebody who is capable of being at the helm of the state. In February, Erie County Democratic Party Chairman Jeremy Zellner told the New York Post that “Kathy is absolutely ready” to assume office.
“She’s been a bulldog from day one. She knows what needs to get done for the people of New York”, Zellner noted.
In the latest development, The Wall Street Journal quoted unnamed sources as saying that Hochul had a phone conversation with advisers last week to ask them for guidance on her potential first steps as New York governor.
Sexual harassment is unacceptable in any workplace, and certainly not in public service.
The AG’s investigation has documented repulsive & unlawful behavior by the Governor towards multiple women. I believe these brave women & admire their courage coming forward. 1/2
— Kathy Hochul (@LtGovHochulNY) August 3, 2021
This came after the 62-year-old politician touched upon the Cuomo sexual harassment scandal on her Twitter page, slamming the governor’s “repulsive and unlawful behaviour […] towards multiple women”.