Many New Yorkers are all asking the same question following New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s resignation: Who is Kathy Hochul, his replacement? For starters, we know that Hochul will be the first woman to ever lead New York State as Governor—but there’s plenty more to know about her aside from this historic role.
Cuomo, 63, announced his resignation one week after an investigation by Attorney General Letitia James found the Governor had sexually harassed multiple women—including former and current state employees—during his time in office. During a press conference on August 10, Cuomo confirmed that he would be stepping away from his post in two weeks and his Lieutenant Governor, Kathy Hochul, would take his place. “Doing the right thing is doing the right thing for you, because as we say, ‘it’s not about me; it’s about we,'” Cuomo told reporters. “Kathy Hochul, my lieutenant governor, is smart and competent. This transition must be seamless. We have a lot going on. I’m very worried about the Delta variant and so should you be, but she will come up to speak quickly, and my resignation will be effective in 14 days.”
Prior to Cuomo’s resignation, Hochul, 62, made clear that she supported the women who came forward with their allegations of sexual harassment against the Governor. “Sexual harassment is unacceptable in any workplace, and certainly not in public service,” she wrote on Twitter following the findings of the Attorney General’s independent investigation. “The AG’s investigation has documented repulsive & unlawful behavior by the Governor towards multiple women. I believe these brave women & admire their courage coming forward.”
Following the August 10 press conference, Hochul also announced her support for Cuomo’s decision to resign, tweeting, “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 went on to confirm her new role: “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,” she wrote. And indeed she is! Read on for more details about the lifelong politician and first-ever female Governor of New York below.
Hochul first got involved in politics in college
Kathleen “Kathy” Hochul first got involved in politics while she was still an undergraduate student at Syracuse University in New York. While she was there, the Buffalo-native led several political efforts—including a boycott of the school bookstore over its high prices, lobbying her university to divest from apartheid South Africa, and perhaps most notably, her attempt to have the university’s stadium named after Syracuse alumnus Ernie Davis, the first Black football player to win the Heisman Trophy—a.k.a. college football’s most prestigious award. While Hochul wasn’t able to convince Syracuse during her time as a student, the university eventually named the stadium’s field after the College Football Hall of Famer, according to The New York Times.
Hochul has also worked outside of politics
After completing her undergraduate degree at Syracuse, Hochul went on to earn a law degree from the Catholic University of America and worked as an attorney at a private law firm for some time. She has also served as M&T Bank’s Group Vice President for Strategic Relationships prior to her appointment to Lieutenant Governor in 2015.
Additionally, Hochul has worked independently to support local communities. In 2006, she and her mother and aunt founded the Kathleen Mary House, a transitional home for women and children who are victims of domestic violence. She is also the co-founder of the Village Action Coalition, which seeks to help local small businesses “survive competition from big box stores.”
Hochul is a moderate Democrat
Hochul is a self-described “independent Democrat” who has mostly aligned with moderate, middle-of-the-road policy throughout the years. “People don’t like the hyperpartisan, us-versus-them mentality,” she once told the Lockport Journal in 2011. “They want (representatives) to stop the fighting and work together to solve problems.”
The career politician first got her start in public service working as a legal assistant for Democratic New York Congressman John LaFalce and New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan in the ’80s before seeking public office on her own. She later served as a councilmember for the upstate New York town of Hamburg, along with landing her role as Deputy Count Clerk—and later, County Clerk—of Eerie County throughout the early 2000s.
In 2011, Hochul ran for Congress as the representative for New York’s 26th District in a special election when Republican Rep. Chris Lee left a vacant seat following his resignation. Following her victory, Hochul ran for re-election but ultimately lost to Rep. Chris Collins in 2012. Two years later, Hochul was named as Andrew Cuomo’s choice for Lieutenant Governor while he was running for a second term, and she was ultimately sworn in following their win in January 2015.
Hochul is a mother and wife
Hochul is married to William J. Hochul Jr., a former United States attorney for the Western District of New York. Together the pair share two children: a son, Will, and a daughter, Katie.