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Kathy Hochul to become New York's first woman governor after Andrew Cuomo's exit

Hochul, who has made a name for herself as a workhorse, has taken pride in visiting each of New York’s 62 counties every year.

Kathy Hochul to become New York's first woman governor after Andrew Cuomo's exit
Cover Image Source: Lt. Governor of New York Kathy Hochul during the National Institute for Reproductive Health's Champion of Choice luncheon at The Ziegfeld Ballroom on April 30, 2019, in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images)

New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul is set to become the first woman governor of the state after Andrew Cuomo announced his resignation on Tuesday, following a report from the attorney general that found he sexually harassed multiple women. The 62-year-old, who has served as Cuomo's lieutenant for nearly the last seven years, called his decision "the right thing to do and in the best interests of New Yorkers." In a brief statement issued shortly after Cuomo's announcement, Hochul added: "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."



According to NBC News, although Hochul has largely stayed out of the public eye in recent years, she is no newcomer to politics. Having grown up in a working-class Irish Catholic family in western New York, she has credited her father's work as a steelworker and union organizer as one of the key influences behind her political views. After graduating from Syracuse University and receiving a law degree at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C, she began her career working for a law firm in Washington. Hochul also went on to work for New York Democrats Rep. John LaFalce and Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan before beginning her own political career back home.



She was first elected to public office in the 1980s as a Hamburg council member and rose through the political ranks with several local positions, before eventually becoming the Erie County clerk in 2007. Four years later, Hochul won a special U.S. House election by flipping a Republican-controlled district spanning from Buffalo to Rochester after campaigning against the GOP plan to overhaul Medicare. She was selected by Cuomo as his running mate in his 2014 re-election campaign as her roots in Erie County were seen as a boost to the ticket.



Over the past years as lieutenant governor, Hochul has made a name for herself as a workhorse, partly because of her determination to engage in extensive on-the-ground politicking. She has taken pride in visiting each of New York’s 62 counties every year and has maintained the practice even during the pandemic. "I've never seen a schedule likes hers," said former Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y. "She keeps in touch with people. She's been building support even before all this. She's built out a really solid network. She's shown she's intellectually capable. And she's got the political acumen to do the job."



Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who was among the New York Democrats calling for Cuomo's resignation, also backed Hochul. "She understands the complexities and needs of our state having been both a congresswoman and having been lieutenant governor for the last several years," Gillibrand said. "She is ready and able and capable of being an extraordinary governor, and I look forward to supporting her and helping her as she turns towards governing our state in a very difficult and challenging time." Cuomo, who has been criticized for seemingly marginalizing his lieutenant governor and appearing uninterested in sharing responsibilities with her, expressed confidence in Hochul's ability to lead during his resignation remarks on Tuesday.



"Kathy Hochul, my lieutenant governor, is smart and competent," he said, reports The New York Times. "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." While Cuomo maintained that he had done nothing wrong, he said that he would "step aside and let government get back to government," effective in 14 days. In a brief statement issued shortly after the attorney general's report was made public, Hochul said: "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. No one is above the law."


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