Manhattan state Senator Brian Benjamin is rumored to be Governor Kathy Hochul’s pick to be the state’s next Lieutenant Governor, according to a political source with knowledge of the decision.
Benjamin would serve as the second ranking officer in the state’s executive branch and the first in line to succeed the Governor, replacing Hochul, who took over as the first-ever woman in New York’s highest office, following former Governor Andrew Cuomo’s resignation on Monday due to sexual harassment allegations.
The Lieutenant Governor is an elected office that has few formal powers and responsibilities beyond that, including a ceremonial role of presiding over the State Senate and casting a vote to break a tie, which rarely happens.
Benjamin, a Democrat, was elected to the state’s upper legislative chamber in 2017, representing East Harlem and the Upper West Side. He unsuccessfully ran in the Democratic primary for city comptroller this year, which was won by Brooklyn Councilman Brad Lander.
Hochul plans to officially announce her decision in the uptown Manhattan neighborhood Thursday, according to the source.
While neither Hochul’s nor Benjamin’s office confirmed the pick, Brooklyn Democratic Party boss and Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn posted a statement congratulating her Manhattan colleague on social media Wednesday.
“I congratulate my colleague and friend, Sen. Brian Benjamin for being selected as our state’s next Lieutenant Governor,” Bichotte wrote. “Brian is a highly qualified man of integrity who will continue serving the people of New York State with dedication.”
— Rodneyse Bichotte (@AMBichotte) August 25, 2021
Hochul, who hails from Buffalo, previously said she would chose a politician from New York City and a person of color for the role, which will help her gain support from crucial downstate voters when she runs to keep the governorship in 2022.
She told The New York Times in an interview published on Aug. 24 that she had already picked her second-in-command, but didn’t specify who it would be.
Hochul’s replacement won’t need to be confirmed by the State Senate or face voters in a special election, she can simply choose him, according to the Gotham Gazette.
Benjamin would be the second Black man to hold the office, after former Lieutenant Governor David Paterson, who also became Governor after Eliot Spitzer resigned in disgrace in 2008.
The rumor mill has been churning about her pick for weeks, with other possible candidates including Bichotte, Bronx State Senator and county Democratic Party boss Jamaal Bailey, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., and State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who represents parts of Westchester County.
A son of a Caribbean immigrant mother, Benjamin previously served as a delegate for President Barack Obama in 2012 and was a member of the president’s National Finance Committee.
He also served on Manhattan Community Board 10 and previously worked as an investment banker for three years at Morgan Stanley.