Who Is Kathy Hochul, Andrew Cuomo's Successor?
What to know about the lieutenant governor who will be the first female governor of New York.
Now that New York governor Andrew Cuomo has resigned in a blaze of BS, the state will get a woman governor for the first time, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. If you've never heard of this groundbreaker before, that's no surprise — Cuomo rarely ever mentioned her. But inside political circles, according to The New York Times, she's known as a well-liked and competent politician. (Funny how it's always women who are described this way.)
Though it would have been a bit inappropriate for Hochul to call for his resignation herself, seeing as it is Hochul who will replace Andrew Cuomo as governor, in a statement following his announcement she said, "I agree with Governor Cuomo's decision to step down. It is the right thing to do and in the best interest of New Yorkers." She added, "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."
We are tentatively pumped. Here is what you should know about Kathy Hochul (that's pronounced HO-kul, by the way), the new HBIC, who will take over for Cuomo in a matter of weeks.
She believes Cuomo's accusers.
First and most importantly, everyone should be aware that Hochul made a public statement earlier this month in support of the 11 women found to have been sexually harassed or assaulted by Cuomo. "The Attorney General's investigation has documented repulsive and unlawful behavior by the Governor towards multiple women. I believe these brave women and admire their courage coming forward," she said.
Being unequivocally the correct thing to say, we wouldn't draw attention to this if it wasn't for the fact that a few other high-ranking women who worked closely with Cuomo made no such statements and/or also resigned in disgrace.
She's not a city girl.
Unlike her former boss, and most prominent New York State politicians for that matter, Hochul has never been New York City-based. The new governor is from upstate Buffalo, New York and, according to a profile in The New York Times, spent nearly her entire life in the western part of the state.
The article describes Hochul's modest, working class background and "service-minded" upbringing. As a teenager, Hochul worked as a waitress at a fast-food joint, coming home late at night and staying up to study. Her parents also instilled a strong sense of civic duty into Hochul and her five siblings, taking in developmentally disabled kids who had no one to visit during the holidays and driving into poor neighborhoods of Buffalo to deliver food, clothes, and furniture — even though they themselves were struggling.
Basically the polar opposite of how Cuomo, heir to a political dynasty and one-time Kennedy-in-law, grew up. So far so good.
She's had support from the NRA.
One thing we don't necessarily love is that Hochul has a history of friendliness with the National Rifle Association. The NRA gave her an "A" rating and endorsed her in her Congressional race in 2012, before she joined Cuomo's ticket in his first run for governor a few years later.
That said, in 2018 she increased pressure on the state Senate to pass the "red flag" bill, which gives teachers, school officials, family members, and police officers the right to petition judges if they believe someone who has access to guns is dangerous. In a statement Hochul said these legislators were just too afraid of the NRA.
She's also moved leftwards over the course of her career on other issues, including on budget cuts to medicare and immigration restrictions, where she previously had a more centrist stance.
She's consistent on issues affecting women.
Consistent with her statement about the allegations against her predecessor, Hochul seems to always have been an advocate for women. She has rallied (loudly) with abortion rights activists and been endorsed by the Planned Parenthood Action Fund and Emily's List.
Within the Cuomo administration she's fought for the "Enough is Enough" sexual assault prevention program and helped to pass the strictest laws against sexual harassment in the nation, per her bio. In 2006, along with her mother and an aunt, she established the Kathleen Mary House, a transitional home for victims of domestic violence.
In conclusion, Kathy Hochul is basically the anti-Andrew Cuomo. And we think that deserves a hell yeah.