As she moves closer to taking over as governor, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul declared that her lieutenant governor will be from New York City.
In an interview on Face the Nation, Hochul, who hails from Western New York, said, “I am an upstater, even though I’ve spent thousands of hours in New York City, and I’m well familiar with the challenges. But I want someone who lives there. I want someone who understands the challenges firsthand.”
She added, “So I’ll have a very diverse administration, but also excited about the prospect of having a true partnership with a lieutenant governor who I bring—I believe will bring a lot to the table. So that’ll be announced shortly after I’m sworn in.”
Hochul, who will become governor on August 24th, has already said she will run for governor in 2022, and pundits have suggested that for her to have a shot at winning an election, she should select a downstate lieutenant governor for her ticket. Politico reported last week, “The consensus among political observers seems to be that Hochul, who is white and from Buffalo, will almost certainly select a person of color from New York City. And it will likely be somebody who will stay with her on the 2022 ticket, rather than a placeholder.”
It seems that Hochul’s shortlist may be down to two candidates: Multiple outlets are reporting that State Senator Jamaal Bailey, who represents the Bronx (and is a protege of Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie), and State Senator Brian Benjamin, whose district is in Harlem. Both state senators are Black.
Political consultant Hank Sheinkopf told the Post, “It ties up a lot of Blacks in the city and makes it a lot harder for Letitia James to go at her as a Black candidate.” He also speculated that Bailey was a “better choice” because his district is more Black and has more of an organization behind him.
Still, Hochul emphasized she was speaking to a number of people, “A lot of people are interested. I would say there’s a lot of energy and excitement.”
According to the NY State Constitution, the lieutenant governor, who must be at least 30 years old, a New York resident of at least five years, and a U.S. citizen, assumes the duties of the governor if the governor is unable to serve. The lieutenant governor also serves as the State Senate’s president; the Senate website says, “In this largely ceremonial capacity,the Lieutenant Governor presides over the Senate during the legislative session and has a rarely used casting vote to break ties in measures before the house.”
Hochul, as lieutenant governor, has served as liaison to New York’s federal representatives in Washington D.C. (she is a former Congressional member) and chairs 10 Regional Economic Development Councils. Her website states, “Representing Governor Cuomo across the State, Hochul tours main streets, meets with local business owners, visits college campuses, and meets regularly with mayors, supervisors and other community leaders. The Lieutenant Governor builds support for the Governor’s initiatives including the minimum wage increase, paid family leave, ethics reform and infrastructure investment.”
Attorney General Letitia James has been mentioned as a candidate for governor; this past week, Spike Lee held a fundraiser for her in Martha’s Vineyard.