New York Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul has delivered her first remarks since Andrew Cuomo‘s resignation announcement, distancing herself from the disgraced governor and his ‘toxic’ workplace.
Hochul’s press conference on Wednesday was her first real introduction to many New Yorkers, and she presented a tough, professional persona as she squared off with the press.
‘While it was not expected, it is a day for which I am prepared,’ said Hochul, a western New York Democrat who has held multiple offices but is unfamiliar to many voters in the state.
Hochul was quick to disavow her fellow Democrat Cuomo, who was forced to resign over sexual harassment allegations, saying she was not ‘close’ with him.
She said there would be no place in her administration for any Cuomo aides who were implicated in unethical behavior by the state attorney general’s investigation of his behavior toward women.
‘No one will ever describe my administration as a toxic work environment,’ said Hochul, who will move into the governorship when Cuomo leaves office in 13 days.
New York Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul has delivered her first remarks since Andrew Cuomo’s resignation announcement, vowing that she is ready to lead the state
Governor Andrew Cuomo (center) was spotted today saying goodbye to some of his workers in his back yard. Stephanie Benton the aid to the Governor was spotted leaving the Mansion
Cuomo is seen on Tuesday preparing to depart by helicopter after announcing his resignation
Asked if she was considering a statewide mask mandate as the state experiences a surge of new coronavirus cases, Hochul replied: ‘All options are on the table.’
Hochul’s presser marked a stark departure in style from Cuomo, who seemed to relish presiding over a shouting press corps, mocking them at times before selecting one of the screamed questions to answer.
Instead, Hochul proceeded down an orderly list of reporters to call on, starting out with a representative of her hometown newspaper in Buffalo.
At one point, she put her hands up to quiet the ballyhoo of shouted questions, saying ‘this isn’t going to work’ before calling on the next reporter on her list.
Hochul’s friends and prior colleagues have described her as hands-on, open-minded and professional, with a special passion for environmental issues and combating domestic violence.
With just 16 months left in the term, Hochul will soon face the decision of whether to run in the November 2022 election to secure a four more years at the helm of New York, the fourth most populous U.S. state.
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.
Hochul’s presser marked a stark departure in style from Cuomo, who preferred the chaos of a shouting press corps, and she proceeded orderly down a list of reporters to take questions
At one point, she put her hands up to quiet the ballyhoo of shouted questions, saying ‘this isn’t going to work’ before calling on the next reporter on her list
Cuomo, 63, announced 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.
Hochul’s press conference on Wednesday was the her first introduction to many New Yorkers, and she presented a tough, professional persona
Democratic New York Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer (together above last week) have both expressed confidence in Hochul’s abilities to lead
‘Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will be an extraordinary governor,’ Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, another upstate political veteran, told reporters at the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday. ‘She understands the complexities and 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’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.
For days after James’ report came out last week, Cuomo insisted to 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 pressed his attorney and his remaining advisers to question the credibility of his accusers, a person with direct knowledge of the governor’s final days in office told the AP.
A plane flies over Albany on Wednesday mocking Cuomo with a banner reading ‘Goodbye governor bad touch! Your friend Brian’
Cuomo decided he would resign after DeRosa quit and began drafting remarks for a resignation address, the person said.
By late Monday night, Cuomo told a small number of his closest advisers that he was planning to resign, the person said. But Cuomo had kept the announcement very close, opting to not even tell other senior Democrats in New York.
The governor personally crafted messaging to hit back at the attorney general´s report and had a hand in shaping some of the wording that his attorney, Rita Glavin, delivered in a virtual press briefing before he resigned, the person said.
Leaders in the state legislature have yet to say whether they plan on dropping an impeachment investigation that has been ongoing since March, and which had been expected to conclude in the coming weeks.
In addition to examining his conduct with women, lawyers hired by the state Assembly had been investigating whether the administration’ manipulated data on COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes and whether Cuomo improperly got help from his staff writing a book about the pandemic.
Republicans have urged the Democratic-controlled legislature to go ahead with impeachment, to prevent Cuomo from running for office again and strip him of his pension.