Hochul braces for the spotlight as Cuomo pulls out

ALBANY, NY (AP) – Kathy Hochul, a Democrat from western New York City unknown to many in the state even after six years as a lieutenant governor, was due to begin presenting to the public on Wednesday as she was preparing to take the reins of power after Governor Andrew Cuomo announced he would step down.

Hochul, 62, will become the state’s first female governor in two weeks, after a remarkable transition period in which Cuomo said he would stay and work to facilitate her in a job he dominated during of his three terms.

She remained out of public sight on Tuesday, but said in a statement she was “prepared to lead.” Hochul was planning to hold his first press conference on Wednesday afternoon at the State Capitol.

Cuomo, 63, announced on Tuesday that he would step down rather than face a likely impeachment trial over allegations he sexually harassed at least 11 women, including one who accused him of tampering with his breasts .

Cuomo continued to deny touching anyone inappropriately and said his instinct was to fight back against allegations he saw 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, having been both a congressman and lieutenant governor in recent years. ”

It remains to be seen how involved Cuomo will be in state government over the next two weeks, or how he manages to cede authority – something he rarely ceded during his tenure.

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.

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 has been corrected to remove an erroneous reference to Hochul speaking in the same room where Cuomo had his coronavirus briefings.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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