Who Is Kathy Hochul, the Politician Who Could Become the First Female Governor of New York?

Andrew Cuomo’s grip on the New York governorship may soon come to an end. After a damning report on Tuesday corroborated multiple allegations of sexual harassment against him, the calls for his resignation—including from President Biden—reached a fever pitch. The report, which details Cuomo’s unwanted touching and inappropriate comments targeting 11 women (including nine current and former female state employees), is the result of a five-month independent investigation from New York State Attorney General Letitia James. It includes previously unreported accusations (including one from a state trooper assigned to Cuomo’s security detail) as well as evidence that Cuomo and members of his staff attempted to retaliate against one of his accusers. 

Cuomo continues to deny these allegations, even as Speaker Nancy Pelosi, New York senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, and the governors of neighboring New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Pennsylvania have all echoed Biden in urging Cuomo to step down. With his days now seeming numbered, attention is turning toward his would-be replacement, New York’s Lt. Gov Kathy Hochul, who is poised to make history as the state’s first female governor—and one who has advocated for women’s health and safety.

Hochul condemned Cuomo’s behavior in a statement this week. “The attorney general’s investigation has documented repulsive and unlawful behavior by the governor towards multiple women,” she said. “I believe these brave women and admire their courage coming forward.”

Who is the woman on the brink of succeeding Cuomo? To say that Hochul has kept a low profile during her six-plus years as Cuomo’s deputy is an understatement. The 62-year-old Buffalo native is rarely quoted in the press, was a quiet presence on the 2018 campaign trail, and when the New York Times proclaimed on November 6 of that year that Cuomo had been easily elected to his third term as governor, Kirsten Gillibrand to her second full term as U.S. senator, and Letitia James to her first as attorney general, the fact that Hochul had been reelected as the state’s lieutenant governor went completely unmentioned.


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