(NewsNation Now) — Andrew Cuomo’s resignation as governor of New York after a series of sexual misconduct accusations has turned a spotlight on his lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul, who will become the first woman to lead the state in its 233-year history.
Hochul, a former Democratic congresswoman who has served as lieutenant governor since 2015, will take over Cuomo until his third four-year term in office ends in December 2022.
“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 said in a statement Tuesday.
After Cuomo announced his decision to step down, Hochul called it “the right thing to do and in the best interest of New Yorkers.”
To many New Yorkers, Hochul is an unknown quantity, serving since 2015 in a job that is mostly ceremonial. A typical afternoon in late July had her announcing job training funding in Utica, discussing manufacturing in Rome and touring downtown Cazenovia with the small town’s mayor.
Here are some facts about the 62-year-old Hochul:
- Cuomo asked Hochul, a rising star in the Democratic Party, to join the gubernatorial ticket in 2014 after the then-lieutenant governor, Robert Duffy, announced he would not seek another term. Cuomo and Hochul won in 2014 and then again in 2018.
- In her role as lieutenant governor, Hochul chairs 10 economic development councils that invest in projects across the state. In addition, she co-chairs a task force to combat heroin and opioid abuse and also led Cuomo’s “Enough is Enough” campaign in 2015 to combat sexual assault on college campuses.
- Hochul was born in the western New York city of Buffalo in 1958. The daughter of working-class parents, she is the second-oldest of six children. She is married to William Hochul, who served as the U.S. attorney for the Western District of New York from 2010 to 2016. They have two children.
- She graduated from Syracuse University in 1980 and earned her law degree from Catholic University in Washington in 1984.
- After a stint at a Washington law firm, Hochul worked as a legal and legislative aide to John LaFalce, a congressman from New York, and then to Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a towering political figure in the state. During her time in Congress, Hochul helped draft legislation related to campaign finance and immigration reforms.
- She served 14 years as a member of the town council in Hamburg, south of Buffalo. Afterward, then-Governor Eliot Spitzer appointed her clerk in Erie County, a post she held until 2011 when she won a special election for a New York congressional district that had not gone to a Democrat in 40 years. However, after congressional district maps were redrawn in 2012, she lost a Republican challenger.
- Hochul has described herself as an “independent Democrat.” In 2012 she was one of 17 Democrats who joined with Republicans in finding U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for withholding some documents related to a failed gun-running investigation known as Operation Fast and Furious.
(Reporting by Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut; editing by Daniel Wallis and Jonathan Oatis)
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.