Kathy Hochul, a veteran politician so far away from the spotlight, will become this month the first governor of New York and the one in charge of leading the state in a difficult time, marked by the Covid-19 crisis and the turbulent exit from his predecessor, Andrew Cuomo.
Hochul will assume office when in 12 days Cuomo’s resignation becomes official and this Thursday he already announced that he plans to stand in the 2022 elections to obtain a full mandate as head of the New York Executive.
“I am the most prepared person to assume this responsibility and I am going to ask the voters to trust me again,” he said in an interview with NBC .
Hochul has a little over a year ahead of her to make herself known to citizens and convince them that she is the right leader in the post-Cuomo era.
The governor, who has been in office for a decade, will leave behind a complicated legacy ultimately marked by his dismal fall following allegations of sexual harassment filed by various former and former employees.
A year after seeing his popularity skyrocket for his role in responding to the pandemic, Cuomo was forced to resign under pressure from his fellow Democratic Party members and under threat of impeachment.
DISTANCES WITH CUOMO
The first thing Hochul has done has been to mark the distances with him, underlining his lack of closeness despite having been his lieutenant governor since 2015.
“I think it is clear that the governor and I have not been close, neither physically nor in other ways,” he defended this Wednesday in his first public appearance since Cuomo’s announcement, an appearance in which he insisted that he did not know the alleged environment of “hostile” work, especially for women, denounced in the state Executive.
According to various local media, that distance was real and had only widened since the accusations against the governor began to appear. Hochul, in fact, had not spoken to Cuomo since last February, notes The New York Times.
Hochul has said that he will introduce important changes in the cabinet to ensure that no one can say that his is an Administration with a “toxic” climate and has stressed that his style of government will go through listening to all voices, in contrast to the haughty character de Cuomo, known for his tricks to pressure other leaders and impose their positions.
Politically, meanwhile, great changes are not expected, since both belong to the centrist wing of the Democratic Party and the next governor has clearly defended Cuomo’s political project, beyond her personal behavior.
“A lot of people have supported the policies of the Cuomo Administration. There is a strong legacy of achievements, ”he stressed this Wednesday.
LITTLE KNOWN, BUT WITH EXPERIENCE
Since taking over as lieutenant governor in 2015, Hochul has always been in the background and is unknown to most New Yorkers.
In many respects, he has a profile almost opposite to that of Cuomo, a native of the Big Apple with a pedigree – his father was a governor – with many political ambitions – his name has sounded like future for the White House -, in love with microphones and used to publicly fighting with other figures, including fellow party members.
Hochul, meanwhile, has made a career out of Buffalo, in the west of the state, where she is from and a place far from the focus of New York City.
Her colleagues describe her these days as a good and kind person , with a great capacity to listen, and who in recent years has not stopped traveling almost daily through the state to know first-hand the concerns of the citizens.
Before coming to state government, Hochul – who is 62 years old – had worked as an assistant to other Democratic politicians and held various local offices in western New York.
The great opportunity came in 2011, as it does now, as a result of a scandal involving a male politician, when Congressman Christopher Lee resigned after sending a woman photos of him shirtless that ended up being published on the internet.
Hochul won by surprise the special election that was called to replace him, prevailing in a traditionally Republican district.
His time in Washington was short, because the following year, and after a change in the boundaries of that district made him even more conservative, he lost the seat to a Republican Party candidate.
In 2014, Cuomo chose her as his running mate, according to analysts with the aim of attracting votes in Buffalo and the western region of the state.
A lawyer by training, Hochul – born into a family of Irish immigrants – practiced the profession before entering politics and after graduating from Syracuse University and the Catholic University of America. EFE