Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat from Buffalo who was elected to her position in 2014, last addressed the governor’s situation in a statement on Tuesday. Ms. Hochul said then that she had confidence in an independent review of the accusations overseen by state Attorney General Letitia James.
Three former aides to the governor and one current employee in his Executive Chamber have accused Mr. Cuomo of sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior. The governor has denied allegations that he touched anyone inappropriately and apologized if his workplace behavior made people feel uncomfortable.
Even in private conversations, Ms. Hochul is treading lightly on Mr. Cuomo’s situation, according to state and local officials familiar with her thinking including several people who have spoken to her in the past week. One person who spoke to her said the lieutenant governor didn’t feel it would be her place to weigh in.
“She basically is saying that she’s the last person who should offer an opinion on this because she would appear to be self-interested,” the person said.
New York Republican State Committee Chairman Nick Langworthy held a press conference in Buffalo on Wednesday to say Ms. Hochul should be speaking up. “Cuomo’s victims are not silent. They are growing louder by the day. Kathy Hochul’s silence, however, is deafening,” Mr. Langworthy said.
Democrats including Jeremy Zellner, who is chairman of the Erie County Democratic Committee, say Republicans’ attacks have no credibility because they didn’t speak out after multiple women accused former President Donald Trump of sexual misconduct.
A spokeswoman for Ms. Hochul declined to comment. On Tuesday, Ms. Hochul referenced Ms. James’s investigation and said, “I am confident everyone’s voice will be heard and taken seriously. I trust the inquiry to be completed as thoroughly and expeditiously as possible.”
This is in line with Mr. Cuomo’s position, which he repeated on Friday. He has asked people to withhold judgment until the outside reviews are concluded, and says he won’t resign.
But many of his party-mates aren’t giving him that space. Democrats who dominate the state Assembly said on Thursday that they would launch an impeachment investigation. Both of New York’s U.S. senators as well as 16 Democratic members of its delegation to the House of Representatives have called on Mr. Cuomo to resign.
More than 130 state lawmakers from both parties say the governor should step aside. Some have explicitly asked Ms. Hochul to take over temporarily pending the review.
Ms. Hochul is the second person to serve as Mr. Cuomo’s lieutenant governor; Bob Duffy, a former mayor of Rochester, had the position from 2011 to the end of 2014. Ms. Hochul isn’t a regular participant in senior staff meetings and wasn’t part of the small circle of advisers who, with Mr. Cuomo, guided the state’s pandemic response.
In 2018, Mr. Cuomo publicly pushed Ms. Hochul to campaign for a seat in Congress representing Western New York rather than remain as his running mate. Ms. Hochul said at the time that she felt privileged to be lieutenant governor and had no interest in running for Congress again. She served in the House of Representatives from 2011 to 2013 after winning a special election in the Republican-leaning district, and previously was clerk of Erie County.
Instead, Ms. Hochul has focused on representing the administration at public events around the state. On Friday, she went to a Buffalo hospital, where she received a Covid-19 vaccination.
Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, a Democrat, said Ms. Hochul’s connections around the state would serve her well if she became governor.
“Kathy Hochul is a consummate public servant,” Ms. Sheehan said last week. “She works hard, she listens to people, she cares. In any state, you want for your lieutenant governor somebody who can do the job of governor. It doesn’t always happen, but in Kathy Hochul’s case she has the ability to do the job if it comes to it.”
THE QUESTION: Who was the first woman to serve as lieutenant governor of New York?
—Know the answer? Write me an email!
THE LAST ANSWER: The last Howard Johnson’s restaurant operating in the U.S. is in Lake George, N.Y.
Write to Jimmy Vielkind at Jimmy.Vielkind@wsj.com
Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8
Source: WSJ – US News