Watch CBS News

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul To Become New York's First Female Governor After Cuomo Announces Resignation; 'I Am Prepared To Lead'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - With New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's announcement that he is stepping down in 14 days ahead of possible impeachment over sexual harassment allegations, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will become the state's first female governor.

"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," Hochul wrote on Twitter. "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."

As CBS2's Alice Gainer reports, Hochul has spent much of the last nearly seven years on the road, visiting each of the state's 62 counties annually, mostly working in Cuomo's shadow during her two terms in office.

"She wanted to hear from people. She wanted to hear  from New Yorkers, what they wanted from their government," said Christine Quinn, former speaker of the New York City Council.

Quinn knows a thing or two about firsts. She was the first female and first openly gay speaker of the New York City Council.

"You know, when you're a first, to be honest, it comes with great honor and it's humbling, but it comes with an extra responsibility," she said.

Quinn, who is currently executive committee chair of the New York State Democratic Committee, has worked with Hochul on issues surrounding rape and sexual assault on campuses and homelessness.

When as about Hochul's agenda as governor, Quinn said, "It's going to be much more participatory. Really bring in outside input and outside experts more than the Cuomo administration did, which tended to be a little bit walled off."

A Buffalo native, Hochul served on the Hamburg town board and then as Erie county clerk. She was elected to Congress, winning a 2011 special election, representing a conservative Western New York district, but she lost a bid for reelection a year later.

Not everyone is throwing their support behind Hochul.

Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin thinks she empowered Cuomo's behavior and "has been silent scandal after scandal."

But Hochul was not present during Cuomo's daily coronavirus briefings, was not mentioned in his pandemic memoir, and is not considered part of his inner circle.

WEB EXTRARead The AG's Report | Exhibits 1 | Exhibits 2 | Exhibits 3 | Cuomo's Response

Hochul's name was also not mentioned in the investigative report by state Attorney General Letitia James which detailed efforts by Cuomo's staff to discredit some of his accusers.

In a series of tweets last week, Hochul said in part she believed the women and that "The AG's investigation has documented repulsive & unlawful behavior by the governor towards multiple women."

But she stopped short of calling for his resignation because she's "next in line of succession, it would not be appropriate to comment further on the process at this moment."

"I think it's noteworthy that the first woman governor is being brought in to clean up a mess made by a man," Quinn said.

Hochul's communications director posted pictures last week as she rode the subway on her way to an event in Harlem wearing a baseball cap that read "fight like a girl."

"Even though jokes were made about this, could be the next governor that we're addressing today. She was resolute and did not make any mention of anything. She was a consummate professional," said Queens Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman.

Hyndman invited Hochul to speak at the event for the National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women prior to the release of the AG's report.

Hyndman says Hochul spoke of one of her female inspirations.

"Talked about her history, her background, her meaning to Shirley Chisolm, former congresswoman, an icon in American politics," she said.

Outside of that event, Hochul has been canceling public appearances.

"She was in Queens recently. A couple of my colleagues met with her. So she has definitely made an impression I believe across the state of New York," Hyndman said.

Since Cuomo's announcement Tuesday, Hochul has been getting right to work, calling Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, Rev. Al Sharpton and other leaders.

She has not publicly expressed whether she would pursue a full term in 2022.

Hochul has a bachelor's degree from Syracuse University and a law degree from Catholic University, but left a career in law for public service.

She is married with two children.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.