Will set a different tone: Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul on leading New York
- Hochul is set to become the state's first female governor in two weeks
- Cuomo announced on Tuesday that he would quit down rather than face a likely impeachment trial
- Cuomo denies that he touched anyone inappropriately
Suddenly on the steering wheel of New York, Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul said on Wednesday that she would set a different tone than Governor Andrew Cuomo, who resigned amid sexual harassment allegations.
Hochul, 62, is set to become the state's first female governor in two weeks, following a remarkable transition period in which Cuomo has said he will work to ease her into a job that he dominated over his three terms in office.
“While it was not expected, it is a day for which I am prepared,” said Hochul, the Assosiated Press reported.
In her first public remarks after the Democratic governor announced his resignation, Hochul said she would change the work culture in the state's top office.
“Nobody will ever describe my administration as a toxic work environment,” vowed Hochul.
She made it clear that there would be no place in her administration for any Andrew Cuomo aides who were implicated in unethical behavior by the state attorney general's investigation of his behavior toward women.
Cuomo, 63, announced on Tuesday that he would quit down rather than face a likely impeachment trial after state Attorney General Letitia James released a report concluding he sexually harassed 11 women, including one who accused him of groping her breast.
Cuomo denies that he touched anyone inappropriately and said his instinct was to fight back against claims he felt were unfair or fabricated. But he said that with the state still in a pandemic crisis, it was best for him to step aside so the state’s leaders could “get back to governing.”
That job will fall to Hochul, who served briefly in Congress representing a Buffalo-area district, but purposely kept a modest profile as 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 with a governor famous for his love of steamrolling opponents and holding grudges. She's well-liked by colleagues, who say voters shouldn't confuse her quiet approach under Cuomo with a lack of confidence or competence.
“Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will be an extraordinary governor. She understands the complexities and needs of our state,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand was quoted on Tuesday by the Associated Press.
It remains to be seen how involved Cuomo will be in state government over the next two weeks, or how he'll manage handing over authority — something he rarely ceded during his time in office.
His circle of advisers has shrunk, but his closest aide and policymaking partner Melissa DeRosa — who was a familiar face at Cuomo's side during his televised briefings on New York’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic — made a surprise return after having announced her resignation from the administration Sunday. The governor's office said she will remain in her job as secretary to the governor until Cuomo departs.