Kathy Hochul Makes History As New York’s First Woman Governor

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New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul is primed to become the first woman to serve as governor of New York. 

The promotion comes on the heels of Andrew Cuomo’s announcement that he would resign in 14 days. 

Cuomo, who served three terms and hoped to serve a fourth, is stepping away from his position in the wake of a sexual harassment investigation

Hochul, 62, was Cuomo’s lieutenant governor for almost seven years.

Is the ideal way to get a promotion because your former boss was an alleged sex pest who resigned in disgrace?

No. But Cuomo is out, and that’s a good thing. 

Even better, his successor is a woman who has the chops to hold down the job, and, added bonus — hasn’t been accused by multiple women of sexual harassment.

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Ready To Lead

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul (@ltgovhochulny)

“I agree with Governor Cuomo’s decision to step down. It is the right thing to do and in the best interest of New Yorkers,” Hochul tweeted after Cuomo’s statement of resignation. 

“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.”

After Attorney General Letitia James’s report came out, Hochul condemned Cuomo’s alleged crimes in a Twitter thread. 

“Sexual harassment is unacceptable in any workplace, and certainly not in public service,” she wrote in early August. 

“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. Under the New York Constitution, the Assembly will now determine the next steps.

“Because Lieutenant Governors stand next in the line of succession, it would not be appropriate to comment further on the process at this moment,” she said

That moment has passed, and Hochul is prepared to move forward as the next governor of New York. 


Who Is Kathy Hochul?

Hochul, 62, has served as Cuomo’s lieutenant for nearly the last seven years.

Hochul was elected lieutenant governor in 2014 and boasts an extensive career in public service, having served 14 years on an upstate New York town board and being appointed clerk of Erie County. 

In 2011, she was elected to a U.S. congressional district that no Democrat had won for 40 years. 

She served as an aide to Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan and held local political positions, including on the town board in Hamburg, and as the clerk of Erie County, according to her campaign website

When Hochul failed in her bid to be re-elected to Congress in 2012, Cuomo chose her to be his running mate during his first reelection campaign as governor.

Her campaign website also states that Hochul has “underscored several policy priorities as lieutenant governor, including the issues of gender and economic inequality.

“She serves as the chair of the state’s regional economic development council and the Women’s Suffrage Commission and has led some of the governor’s advocacy campaigns, such as the ‘Enough is Enough’ sexual assault prevention program.”


How She Got Here 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul (@ltgovhochulny)

I’m not always sure what irony is, but I’m super sure this is irony — Hochul’s rise to governor is only happening because the AG’s report found the 11 women accusing Cuomo of sexual harassment to be credible. 

Although Hochul is more than qualified and up to the task at hand, the fact that the transition is happening only because of Cuomo’s alleged vile treatment of women, is so ironic that it’s almost laughable. 

According to James, the report revealed “a deeply disturbing yet clear picture” in which the governor “sexually harassed multiple women, many of whom were young women, by engaging in unwanted groping, kisses, hugging, and by making inappropriate comments.”

The 168-page report also found that the governor’s conduct created “a hostile work environment for women” and that his staffers had retaliated against at least one of his accusers, who included gubernatorial aides and a New York state trooper assigned to protect him.

James said, “The ascension of our Lieutenant Governor, Kathy Hochul, will help New York enter a new day. We must continue to build on the progress already made and improve the lives of New Yorkers in every corner of the state.”


Taking Over

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul (@ltgovhochulny)

Hochul becomes the heir to a tricky political landscape that Cuomo oversaw for over 10 years — taking on the governorship not only during a dangerous spike in Covid-19 cases, but the inevitable collateral damage of Cuomo’s resignation from his allies (if he has any left). 

But that doesn’t seem to phase her — Hochul has been readying herself to take over in Albany, a state official told CNN last week. 

“She had cleared her schedule and took meetings with legislators and advocacy groups. And she is already assembling a political team, according to a source familiar — an indication that she will run for a full term in 2022.”

In her first comments since the disgraced governor’s resignation, Hochul said she would be cleaning house — no official found to have behaved unethically would be allowed to keep their positions.

“No one will ever describe my administration as a toxic work environment,” said Hochul, who will move into the governorship in two weeks, at a press conference in Manhattan.


Support for Hochul

Hochul, who is a relatively unknown entity compared to Cuomo, has garnered support from her political colleagues. 

Some prominent labor groups have already begun lobbying their support for a Hochul-led era.

“We are fortunate to have a lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul, who is ready to lead with integrity and continue building on the advancements that New York has made towards greater economic, racial and social justice,” said a recent statement from the New York State Nurses Association.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Tuesday said he spoke to Hochul and has “full confidence” that she will create a “professional and capable administration.” New York’s junior U.S. senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, said Hochul will be an “extraordinary governor.”

“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,” the senator said.

Other supporters praised her excellent work ethic as well as her likable, charming nature.  

“She visited not only every county in New York State, but every town and village and every borough in New York City,” said former representative John J LaFalce in an interview with the Buffalo News. “And in every single instance, when she left, people liked her.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Tuesday that President Joe Biden has not yet spoken with Hochul but the administration looks forward to working with her. Biden is expected to speak with her “in the coming days,” a senior White House official told NBC News.


Cuomo Condemnation 

The New York Times delved into how Cuomo took advantage of the #MeToo movement to earn support while actively sexually harassing women. 

In an article and thread titled “Analysis: Governor Andrew Cuomo took advantage of the #MeToo movement. As it swept the world, he cast himself as an ally. Privately, he was allegedly committing new offenses” on Twitter, they broke down how he manipulated the public. 

“He surrounded himself with powerful #Metoo  advocates — see this photo, haunting in retrospect. No one blames them for working w him on policy,” Jodi Kantor wrote

“A lot of people don’t realize how much our work is at the mercy of these men,” activist Tarana Burke, who started the #MeToo movement, said. “If I have the ear of the lawmaker who can make change, I’m going to align with this person.”

Alexandria Ocasia-Cortez weighed in on Twitter, writing, “When abusers of power blame everyone else for ‘misunderstanding’ their abuse, it is often a way to gain sympathy from those who’ve ever been / could be involved in a misunderstanding.

“But the intentional environment of fear & intimidation harassers create is far from a mistake.”

She continued, “There is a huge difference between having an awkward interaction and discussing / learning from it vs. mobilizing entire networks and institutions to bring in victims, silence coverage, and retaliate against those who report abuse. Trying to blur that line helps abuses continue.

“Gov. Cuomo’s resignation is necessary and long overdue. But there is still a large amount of work ahead to account for and reverse the ways our institutions were molded over years to maximize the impunity and lack of transparency necessary for these abuses to unfold as they did,” she added


Succession

Hochul will become governor in two weeks time and promised to deliver another public address to share her plans after she assumes the role.

Hochul’s friends and co-workers have described her as “hands-on, open-minded and professional, with a special passion for environmental issues and combating domestic violence.”

There is less than a year and a half left in the term, so Hochul will have to decide if she wants to run in the November 2022 election to lock in four more years of running New York.

Here’s to hoping she does run — and is elected to the position she deserves, instead of inheriting it because yet another powerful, entitled man felt he could mistreat women. 

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What do you think of Kathy Hochul being NY’s first woman governor? Let us know in the comments below!

 


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