In two weeks, the Empire State will have its first female governor in Kathy Hochul, the current lieutenant governor who will replace outgoing Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Hochul will take the reins of state government on Aug. 24 after months of scandal swamped the Cuomo administration, and led to the three-term governor’s resignation Tuesday. The impending change in leadership brought expressions of relief from New Yorkers weary of all the recent bad news surrounding Cuomo, and hope that Hochul would usher in a new day of governance and leadership.
Hochul was elected lieutenant governor in 2014, replacing former Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy on the ticket with Cuomo. The Buffalo native previously served a term in the House of Representatives between 2011-13, and was the Erie County Clerk between 2007 and 2011.
As lieutenant governor, Hochul’s role in the Cuomo administration was largely limited to ceremonial duties, though the governor would often call on her to lead certain initiatives.
Hochul chaired the Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Abuse and Addiction; led Cuomo’s Enough is Enough campaign to combat sexual assault on college campuses; and also chaired New York’s 10 Regional Economic Development Councils.
One of six children from a working-class family in Buffalo, Hochul recalled wearing a black armband in grade school while her parents protested the Vietnam War.
“And I was protesting for civil rights as a kid,” she said in the 2018 interview. “So you can have an activist heart and be progressive, and still have your family be blue-collar. So I’m not about being pigeonholed.”
In that same interview, she spoke of having different points of view with Cuomo at the time, but that they always worked through them.
“I have a reputation of being fiercely independent, which surprised some people when he asked me to be his running mate, because that is my reputation and has been since my early days of 25 years in public life,” Hochul said at the time. “Despite that reputation, the governor was not afraid of that. He asked me to be his running mate and it’s been a very successful partnership.”
When Hochul takes the oath of office on Aug. 24, she’ll be tasked with serving out the remainder of Cuomo’s third and final term, which expires on Dec. 31, 2022.
New Yorkers will elect a new governor in November 2022, and Hochul is one of several Democrats statewide rumored to be considering a run the office along with the city’s Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, state Attorney General Letitia James (who led the independent investigation into Cuomo’s sexual harassment allegations) and Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The winner of the Democratic nomination will face the Republican Party’s choice. Long Island Congressman Lee Zeldin and former Westchester County Executive Rob Astarino are rumored to be the GOP’s top candidates.