The choice establishes an upstate-downstate partnership.
As CBS2's Marcia Kramer reports, it's no secret that when Hochul was Andrew Cuomo's lieutenant governor, the two were not close. So she went to great lengths to say that the man she picked as her number two - her running mate next year - will be a true partner.
They hugged, they smiled, they waved. They held up their arms in victory, to usher in a new era in New York state politics. Out with Andrew Cuomo, who barely noticed his then-Lieutenant Governor Hochul - in with Govenor Hochul who wants her lieutenant governor, Brian Benjamin, to be a true partner.
"The word 'partner' means something to me. Someone who works side by side in the trenches," Hochul said.
WATCH: Gov. Hochul Officially Names Brian Benjamin Her Lieutenant Governor
When Kramer asked Hochul exactly what jobs she would assign to Benjamin, she reeled off a laundry list, including having him continue her work invigorating local economies.
"I'll be very involved in that it's a passion for me. He will be out there as the face of that initiative. Also we share a passion for dealing with the criminal justice system," Hochul said. "Tenant protection and I said I'm not satisfied with the status of NYCHA. Those are not just hollow words."
Benjamin, a Harvard trained Harlem state senator, said he took the job because he has spent a lot of time with Hochul.
"I was able to see inside her heart, and I knew the kind of person she was before she had power. And you can tell a lot about someone before they have that ultimate power. A kind woman. A person of integrity. A person who believes constituent services," Benjamin said.
The announcement was not only a celebration for the Harlem community. Benjamin will be the second African American to hold the post, but also a celebration of Hochul's deep relationship with local leaders.
The Rev. Al Sharpton said she called him after Cuomo resigned in the face of charges he sexually harassed eleven women.
"She called me and said 'Reverend, the first thing I did was dropped to my knees and ask God for guidance, and ask God for strength.' That's the kind of governor we need - someone who looks beyond themselves," Sharpton said.
Meanwhile, Benjamin talked about his decision to quit a career in banking to devote himself to public service.
"When I left banking to get involved in public service full time, I left and I decide that I wanted to devote my life to public service, a lot of people thought I was crazy, they thought that I had no idea what I was doing, they didn't believe," he said Thursday. "Now I can stand here and say to every one of you, anyone listening at home, pursue your dreams, follow your passions, believe in yourself even when no one else believes in you, and surround yourself with people who support you, real warriors, real fighters."
Hochul says she has spent a few nights in the executive mansion, and there's good news for animal rights activists. Cuomo didn't leave his dog behind.
He also didn't leave her a note wishing her well in dealing with the multiple crises facing New York.
Son of Caribbean immigrants, Benjamin is an American success story. He earned degrees from Brown University and Harvard Business School.
"It's a great day in New York City, Harlem," one Harlem resident told CBS2's John Dias.
"It's nice for the culture and the kids of color to see success and people coming up in the neighborhood," resident Doretha Mintah said.
Many speculated Hochul would appoint someone different than herself in an attempt to balance her ticket.
"He is someone who I think will be able to shepherd the governor around down state and help her build relationships, as he's done for himself," said former Gov. David Paterson.
Dias spoke with one Harlem man who said he knows and respects Benjamin, but found the relatively new politician is still not a household name, even in his own district.
"He's honest, he has integrity, he's a family man," Reggie Mitchell said.
"I've never heard of him," said another resident.
Some argue that's OK, though.
"Name recognition is something that is an advantage to have coming in, but it's also something, with fundraising, can be acquired," former New Jersey gubernatorial candidate John Wisniewski told Dias.
Wisniewski thinks Hochul is appointing her right-hand-man too quickly and could have waited at least another week, though politics could have gotten in the way.
"There's likely to have been a lot of political back room discussions and dealings about who might do what if she doesn't act soon," he said. "She needs a partner, she needs somebody who is loyal, she needs somebody that's going work his backside off helping her get reelected."
Hochul and Benjamin will have to run on their own in the primary election, but will be tethered in the general election.
CBS2's John Dias contributed to this report.
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