Governor-in-Waiting Kathy Hochul Prepares to Ascend. She Just Needs Cuomo to Leave

Governor-in-Waiting Kathy Hochul Prepares to Ascend. She Just Needs Cuomo to Leave

Josefa Velasquez and Samantha Maldonado, THE CITY

Logo for THE CITY
This article was originally published
by THE CITY/Sign up here to get the latest stories from THE CITY delivered to you each morning.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo may have resigned, but he’s not going anywhere for 13 days.

While two weeks’ notice is par for the course when a regular Joe quits a job, it’s an unprecedented span for a governor stepping down in disgrace — and not one his replacement-in-waiting is necessarily thrilled with. 

In her first address to New Yorkers, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul stated Wednesday that Cuomo’s two weeks notice is “not what I asked for.”  

“I’m looking forward to a smooth transition, which he promised,” the Buffalo native said during a news conference at the state Capitol in Albany. “He spoke to me about wanting to make sure that the transition to continuity is important.” 

June 2, 2015 – New York City – Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul attend a screening at Lincoln Center of “The Hunting Ground” a new documentary highlighting the epidemic of sexual violence at colleges and university nationwide. Also present at the screening were the founders of End Rape on Campus, Andrea Pino and Annie E. Clark, who are survivors of sexual assault while students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (Office of the Governor – Kevin P. Coughlin)

But there’s little precedent — and no formal rules — for handing off power. 

And some Cuomo watchers say they’ll be watching his public moves closely in the days to come — especially amid uncertainty over whether the Assembly will move ahead with an impeachment process that could keep him from seeking statewide office again.

“This is not like getting a new president. There’s no playbook on how to resign in disgrace from office and make sure the next person has everything they need,” said Risa Heller, former Gov. David Paterson’s communications director. 

Gov. Eliot Spitzer was the last New York governor to resign, facing impeachment in the wake of a prostitution scandal. He announced his intent to step down on a Wednesday in March 2008. By the following Monday, Paterson was sworn into office.

Unlike Paterson, who had a matter of days to prepare for the new gig, Hochul has had months, Heller noted. Calls for Cuomo to resign came to an initial crescendo in March, after allegations he sexually harassed former aides first surfaced. 

Hochul, who represented Buffalo in Congress for two years, is slated to become New York’s first female governor, overseeing a state of 19 million people and a state budget of $212 billion. 

‘An Orderly Transition’

A two-week runway is necessary to “ensure an orderly transition at this critical time where the key decisions still remain on COVID, the Delta variant and other significant challenges facing the state,” said Cuomo advisor Rich Azzopardi. 

A fortnight also gives Cuomo time to find a place to live — he’s been residing in the governor’s mansion in Albany full time ever since he broke up with his longtime partner, celebrity chef Sandra Lee, in late 2019. 

And the gap could give Hochul, whose term will be up at the end 2022, enough time to hire key staff and otherwise prepare before assuming office. 

She already has plans to clean house of any Cuomo administration officials who were implicated in “doing anything unethical” in Attorney General Letitia James’ damning report that found the governor sexually harassed 11 women as his top aides worked to discredit some of the accusers. 

“At the end of my term, whenever it ends, no one will ever describe my administration as a toxic work environment,” Hochul said. 

While Hochul plans on delivering an address laying out her vision for the state once Cuomo is officially out of office, her staff is already in discussion with his top aides and state agencies are working on transition memos. 

“I know this year and a half has been so challenging for families and businesses across our state. And sometimes it doesn’t feel like it’s getting easier,” Hochul said, referencing rising rates of COVID-19 with next school year approaching. 

“I know New Yorkers. They are hardwired to persevere and to prevail. And the promise I make to all New Yorkers, right here and right now, I will fight like hell for you every single day,” she declared. 

‘A Person of Mischief’

Meanwhile, critics are raising their eyebrows at Cuomo’s long exit.

John Kaehny, executive director of good government group Reinvent Albany, said watchdog groups are calling the period “Cuomo’s 14 days of mischief.” 

“Cuomo’s the guy who instinctively understands the importance of the new cycle and the fact that two weeks is an eternity in an era like ours,” Kaehny said, adding the outgoing governor will likely engage in “narrative protection and legacy protection.”

Kaehny also pointed to the legislation on the governor’s desk that awaits his signature: “There’s a real concern that Cuomo will try to make last-minute deals on behalf of his big donors or other favorite interests.”

Others are also concerned about what the politically Machiavellian Cuomo may be up to. 

Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who investigated Cuomo for abruptly shuttering a commission he himself had empanelled to root out corruption in state government, issued a pointed rebuke Tuesday night calling the governor “a person of mischief.” 

“I hope there’s nothing nefarious about the 14 days, but it strikes me as too long a period. You don’t have to give two weeks’ notice to resign as governor,” Bharara said on his podcast

A Cuomo Comeback?

Members of the Assembly Judiciary Committee, which is investigating whether there are grounds to impeach the governor, plan to meet on Monday to discuss the fate of their multi-pronged investigation. 

The chair of the committee, Assemblymember Charles Lavine (D-L.I.), said Monday before Cuomo’s virtual address announcing his departure that moving forward with impeachment would be “moot” if the governor resigned.

“But there would be the opportunity in the court of impeachment to prohibit him from ever again occupying statewide office,” Lavine added. 

December 31 2016- New York City, NY- Governor Andrew Cuomo dedicates 2nd Avenue Subway at 72nd. Street Station.

Without such a prohibition, many political observers expect Cuomo could try to reclaim his seat in the future. With more than $18 million in his coiffers for a future run, he’s well financed to do so.

“​​Every announcement he might make in the next 14 days, 13 days, or every campaign that he does, if he does them, will be about remolding who he is and renaming himself in light of the details of the attorney general’s report,” said Karen Hinton, a former aide to Cuomo while he was at HUD who later accused him of inappropriate touching. “That’s his natural move: to recover, to redeem and to run for reelection.”

THE CITY is an independent, nonprofit news outlet dedicated to hard-hitting reporting that serves the people of New York.

More from the Roosevelt Island Daily

  • Wishes Come True: Seawright and Serrano Propose Strong Residency Requirements for RIOC
    This afternoon, Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright and Senator José Serrano jointly announced a proposed law including residency requirements for RIOC. Such changes have been on the wish list for Roosevelt Island activists for a decade. by David Stone The Roosevelt Island Daily News Determined to enhance community/RIOC integration while promoting a responsive board have been
  • Coming up: MSTDA Teen Theatre’s “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”
    The Roosevelt Island Daily News Main Street Theatre & Dance Alliance announces the opening of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” in the Howe Theatre, running Jan 28-30, directed by long-time MSTDA director Jacqueline Lucid. The National Theatre’s Olivier and Tony Award® -winning production of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in
  • Tasty Eating, Handling Pain: This Week’s New Zoom Programing from the Carter Burden Network
    While the CBN/RI Senior Center remains closed by the COVID surge, the Carter Burden Network pitches in, lining up easy access online programs. Here’s what’s on tap for this week… The Roosevelt Island Daily News More from the Roosevelt Island Daily davidstone1313 See author's posts
  • RIOC’s New Tram Shutdown Comes with Unintended Humor
    The new Tram shutdown cuts back to single cabin operations and comes with a taste of Henny Youngman-esque humor. It’s not on purpose though, and the expected miscues repeat. by David Stone The Roosevelt Island Daily News About the new Tram shutdown On Sunday, January 23rd, a next phase of Tram maintenance reduces service to
  • Hard winter weather sweeping in, but New York City will miss the worst of it
    by David Stone The Roosevelt Island Daily News New Yorkers got through the extreme cold weather for which Governor Kathy Hochul issued an alert on Saturday. Residents did fine. Or, for Buffalo Bills fans, better than fine as the team ignored frigid temperatures on the way to a 47 -17 win over New England on

Written by:

805 Posts

View All Posts
Follow Me :

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: