New York’s First Female Governor: What You Need To Know About Buffalo Native Kathy Hochul
Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul is slated to become New York’s 57th governor in less than two weeks following Governor Andrew Cuomo’s announcement that he is resigning from his office. Hochul, a Buffalo native, will make history as the first woman to ever hold the office in New York state.
It is an impressive rise for Hochul, someone who has been relatively unknown to anyone outside of New York politics since joining the governor’s team in 2014. Part of the reason for her anonymity may be due to the fact that Hochul rarely joined Cuomo at public events and never appeared at his daily press briefings throughout the pandemic.
Hochul Ready to Be Governor
People who know Hochul said that she is ready to make this transition and become New York’s next governor. Even in his resignation announcement on Tuesday, Cuomo spoke in support of Hochul and her ability to lead New Yorkers.
“Kathy Hochul, my lieutenant governor, is smart and competent,” Cuomo said in his debriefing. “This transition must be seamless…[because] I’m very worried about the Delta variant, and so should you be, but she (Hochul) can come up to speed quickly.”
Shortly after Cuomo announced his resignation as governor, Hochul responded to the public via Twitter -- supporting Cuomo’s decision.
“It is the right thing to do and in the best interest of New Yorkers,” Hochul said.
Hochul Denounced Cuomo’s Actions
Following the state attorney general’s bombshell report that detailed Cuomo’s alleged harassment of women, Hochul denounced the governor’s actions as “repulsive and unlawful,” and she praised Cuomo’s accusers with admiration for having the courage to come forward.
Hochul’s style of leadership is different from what you were used to with Andrew Cuomo. She thrived on establishing deep connections through her political good will, spending much of her time on the road and engaging with others directly. Hochul’s recent public schedule has mostly consisted of direct outreach to community groups and local officials.
She’s From Buffalo!
Hochulis originally from Buffalo, and she is the first Governor of New York State from Buffalo since 1910! Horace White was born in Buffalo and was New York’s 37th Governor. Holchul takes pride in being one of the few -- if not, the only -- who has visited all of New York’s 62 counties each year.
She is an attorney who began her political career shortly after graduating from law school as an aide to Buffalo congressman John LaFalce and later Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Hochul first ran for political office at age 35, and she won a seat on the Hamburg Town Board -- a position she held for 14 years. In May 2003, Erie County Clerk David Swarts appointed Hochul as his deputy, and when Swarts left office four years later, Governor Eliot Spitzer appointed Hochul as the new county clerk.
In May 2011, when Republican Chris Lee resigned from his seat in New York’s 26th congressional district, Hochul decided to run as a Democrat in a special election to replace Lee as a member of the House of Representatives. Hochul received 47% of the vote, and she won the seat in a surprise victory, making her the first Democrat in four decades to represent the 26th congressional district.
In Hochul’s most recent experience, she served as Andrew Cuomo’s lieutenant governor for nearly 7 years, so she has been politically involved for a good amount of time in Albany.
“I would say she’s been busier than any lieutenant governor in recent memory so far,” Robert Bellafiore, former press secretary to Governor George Pataki, told Politico.
Historically, Hochul leans more towards the conservative end of the Democratic party, but in statewide office, she has moved leftward. One of the most notable flips from Hochul in recent years is her position on driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants. Initially, she said that undocumented immigrants should be arrested if they applied for a driver’s license. Presently, she has reversed her stance.
“As someone who has served at all levels of government and is next in the line of succession,” Hochul said. “I am prepared to lead as New York State’s 57th governor.”