Who is Kathy Hochul? NY’s first female governor will replace disgraced Andrew Cuomo

Kathy Hochul, the 77th lieutenant New York governor, will soon assume the role of governor, making her the first woman to do so in the state of New York.

It comes after New York governor Andrew Cuomo announced he would be stepping down from his role in 14 days amid sexual assault allegations from 11 women.

“The best way I can help is if I step aside and let the government get back to the governing,” he said in a press conference.

Now, Hochul believed it was the best decision to make in the interest of New Yorkers.

“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,” she said in a statement about Cuomo relinquishing the role.

After a second aide alleged that Cuomo had sexually harassed her in February, Hochul briefly stated that “everyone deserves to have their voice heard and taken seriously.”

The following month, Hochul released another statement that she trusted the efforts of the investigation into the case.

“I trust the inquiry to be completed as thoroughly and expeditiously as possible. New Yorkers should be confident that through this process, they will soon learn the facts.”

The Wall Street Journal noted that Hochul spoke with advisers sometime last week to discuss the course of action if Cuomo were to step down.

Hochul has served on Cuomo’s team since the 2014 election, but she has been cut off from the inner circle. According to a senior official, the two have not spoken to one another since February, The New York Times reported.

Reportedly, Horchul was only at one of the daily press conferences about the pandemic that Cuomo had. He also didn't mention her in his mid-pandemic memoir.

Others who have worked with her and can vouch for her character spoke in favor of her. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz recently told Politico, in part, “I know she’s more than capable [of]handle any role in New York state government, including governor.”

Despite the apparent lack of closeness, Cuomo expressed his faith in Hochul’s ability to govern the state within the pandemic despite the apparent lack of closeness.

“Kathy Hochul, my lieutenant governor, is smart and competent... I’m very worried about the Delta variant, and so should you be, but she can come up to speed quickly,” Cuomo said during his speech.

Hochul memorably made sure to visit every county in the state (by car) each year she served as lieutenant governor. She also reportedly made drop-ins at diners to talk with locals.

Once the pandemic hit, she didn't shy away from her in-person political style by traveling and attending virtual events in parts of New York rather than turning on the computer from Albany. 

From March until the end of 2020, she had visited every county and participated in over 500 interviews as she was interested in the administration’s response to the pandemic in Western New York.

Born Kathleen Courtney in Buffalo, New York, to Irish Catholic blue-collar parents, Hochul had been involved in politics since she was a teenager.

While attending Syracuse University, she interned at the State Assembly while pursuing a degree in political science.

Eventually, she earned a law degree at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., and served as an aide to John LaFalce and then-Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

In 2011, she became deputy clerk and then a country clerk in Erie County, which was before winning an upset victory in 2011. At that time, she became the first Democrat to represent New York’s 26th Congressional District in 40 years.

The following year, she ended up losing to Republican Chris Collins.

Two years later, in 2014, Cuomo brought in Hochul to replace then-Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy as his running mate for the second term.

Hochul also has many humanitarian efforts under her belt. She joined forces with her mother and aunt in creating the Kathleen Mary House, a transitional home for victims of domestic abuse.

She has also served as a member of the Board of Trustees at Immaculata Academy and co-founded the Village Action Coalition to help local businesses thrive. Hochul is also a supporter of same-sex marriage and abortion rights.

Ultimately, Hochul will face an avalanche of decisions in the two weeks before she takes office. She will have to pick which Cuomo administration officials she will keep and which she will fire as well as assembling her own team. According to an aide, her office now has only nine employees.

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