Suddenly called upon to lead New York through a pandemic and political earthquake, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said on Wednesday she was ready to lead the state and would set a different tone from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is resigning in the middle allegations of sexual harassment.
“Although it wasn’t planned, it’s a day I’m prepared for,” said Hochul, a Democrat from western New York who has held several positions but is unfamiliar to many. New Yorker.
In her first public remarks after the Democratic governor announced her resignation, Hochul said she would change the work culture in the top state office.
“No one will ever describe my administration as a toxic work environment,” swore the lieutenant governor. She said there would be no room in her administration for Cuomo’s assistants implicated in unethical behavior by the state attorney general’s investigation into his behavior towards women.
Hochul, 62, is expected to become the state’s first female governor in two weeks, after a remarkable transition period in which Cuomo said he would work to facilitate her in a job he dominated during his three terms.
Cuomo, 63, announced on Tuesday that he would resign rather than face a likely impeachment trial after state attorney general Letitia James released a report finding he sexually harassed 11 women, including one who accused him of having groped his chest.
Cuomo denies touching anyone inappropriately and said his instinct is to fight back against allegations he sees as unfair or fabricated. But he said with the state still in a pandemic crisis, it was best to step aside so that state leaders can “take back control.” That job will return to Hochul, who briefly served in Congress representing a district in the Buffalo area, but deliberately kept a modest profile as a lieutenant governor in a state where Cuomo commanded – and demanded – the spotlight.
A seasoned veteran of retail politics, Hochul shares some of Cuomo’s centrist politics, but is a stylistic contrast to a governor famous for his love of steamy naysayers and grudge. She’s beloved by her colleagues, who say voters shouldn’t mistake her silent approach under Cuomo for a lack of confidence or competence.
“Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul will be a Governor Extraordinary,” Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, another veteran of northern politics, told reporters at the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday. “She understands the complexities and the needs of our state. ”It remains to be seen how involved Cuomo will be in state government over the next two weeks, or how he will manage to cede authority – something he rarely ceded during his time. mandate.
His circle of advisers has shrunk, but his closest collaborator and political partner Melissa DeRosa – who was a familiar face alongside Cuomo during his televised briefings on New York’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic – has made a comeback. surprise after announcing his resignation from the administration on Sunday. The governor’s office said she would retain her position as secretary to the governor until Cuomo left.
For days after the release of James’ report last week, Cuomo urged those close to him that he could weather the storm, but even his closest outside advisers told him it would be impossible.
Cuomo was privately frustrated that few people were willing to say anything to defend him publicly and urged his remaining lawyer and advisers to question the credibility of his accusers, according to a person with direct knowledge. of the last days of the governor’s mandate. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss the private and sensitive conversations.
Cuomo decided he would quit after DeRosa left and began writing remarks for a resignation address, the person said.
Late Monday night, Cuomo told a small number of his closest advisers that he planned to step down, the person said. But Cuomo had kept the announcement very close, choosing not to even tell the other top Democrats in New York.
The governor personally drafted messages in response to the attorney general’s report and helped craft some of the wordings his lawyer Rita Glavin made during a virtual press briefing ahead of her resignation, the person said. .
Leaders in the state legislature have yet to say whether they plan to drop an impeachment inquiry that has been ongoing since March and is due to conclude in the coming weeks.
In addition to examining his conduct with the women, lawyers hired by the State Assembly had investigated whether the administration had manipulated data on COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes and whether Cuomo had improperly enlisted his staff’s help in writing a book about the pandemic.
Republicans have urged the Democratic-controlled legislature to move forward with impeachment, possibly to prevent Cuomo from running for re-election.
(This story was not edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)