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NY Democratic Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul

It is “Time for New York’s Andrew Cuomo To Go”—Turn Over the Governorship to Kathy Hochul August 08, 2021


Democrats and Republicans. They both claim they stand for women’s rights. Only one does. Exhibit A-- how do the Democratic and Republican parties react to claims of sexual harassment and attempted sexual assault of women? In 1991, Clarence Thomas was nominated to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) by Republican President H.W. Bush. Anita Hill accused him of sexual harassment, but Thomas still won confirmation to the SCOTUS bench with strong GOP backing. When Trump nominee Brett Kavanaugh was accused at his 2018 SCOTUS confirmation hearings of trying to sexually assault Christine Blasey Ford, the GOPers in the then “Red” majority Senate pushed him through by a 50-48 vote. No GOP Senator was in the “NAY” column. Only Alaska’s GOP Senator Lisa Murkowski didn’t show up in the “YEA” column. She “courageously” voted “Present,” but not against Kavanaugh’s nomination. She used the technical maneuver of pairing her vote against that of GOP Senator Steven Daines of Montana. Daines was at his daughter’s wedding. Murkowski’s vote only cancelled out what would have been Daines’ “YEA” vote had he been in the Senate that day (“Supreme Ambition,” Marcus, R., 2019). In 12/2017, popular Minnesota Senate Democrat Al Franken was forced to resign after seven women came forward with allegations of inappropriate sexual advances. MN Democratic Lt. Governor Tina Smith replaced him. In the 11/2018 special election to finish out Franken’s remaining term, Smith easily beat her GOP opponent by 11 points (See Cohen & Cook Political Almanac 2020). Running for a full six-year term in 11/2020, Smith defeated another GOP opponent by a 5.3% margin (sctimes.com). Extremist Congressman/Trump fan Matt Gaetz (R-FL) is being investigated by the U.S. House for paying for sex with a number of young women, including a 17-year old (nytimes.com, Russonello, 4/02/21). Gaetz remains in Congress. Of course, Demagogue Donald sexually harassed and assaulted many women, and was recorded bragging about it. Millions of GOPers still voted for him twice.


Now let’s turn eastward to New York. Third-term Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo (63), is facing calls from President Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and fellow NY Dem. U.S. Senator Kristen Gillibrand to resign. Other prominent NYers calling for Cuomo’s resignation include Democratic Congressmen Tom Suozzi, Gregory Meeks, and Hakeem Jeffries. Cong. Jeffries is the House Democratic Caucus chairman, the House’s fifth highest-ranking Democrat. These Congressmen declared, “The time has come for Governor Andrew Cuomo to do the right thing for the people of New York State and resign.” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki stated, “I don’t know that anyone could have watched NY Atty. General Letitia James’ 8/03/2021 press conference this morning and not found the allegations to be abhorrent (Constantino & Wilkie, cnbc.com, 8/03/21).” A 165-page report stated that Cuomo had sexually harassed 11 women, “and in doing so violated state and federal law.” This report is the product of a monthslong probe by independent investigators working for NY State Attorney General Letitia James’ office. This lengthy report stated that Cuomo’s office was “riddled with fear and intimidation and was a hostile work environment for many staffers. The women Cuomo harassed included members of his own staff, members of the public and other state employees, one of whom was a NY state trooper (cnbc.com, 8/03/21).” These allegations of sexual harassment and assault started in 12/2020 and continued to mushroom over the winter. These allegations ranged from inappropriate comments to forced kisses and groping (latimes.com/world-nation, AP, 8/04/21). State Atty. General James said there would be no criminal referral, but local police and prosecutors can use evidence and findings to build their case. The Albany district attorney said he was requesting James’ investigative materials and encouraged victims to come forward (AP, latimes.com, 8/04/21). A criminal complaint has been filed with the Albany Sheriff’s Office by a staffer, Brittany Commisso. She is among the 11 women whose alleged sexual harassment by Gov. Cuomo was discussed in Atty. General James’ report (cnn.com, del Valle & Stracqualursi, 8/06/21, cnn.com, Joseph, 8/08/21, nytimes.com, Rubinstein, 8/08/21).


Cuomo remains defiant. He denies touching anyone inappropriately or making inappropriate sexual advances. He called the investigation fueled by “politics and bias.” He apologized for making staffers feel uncomfortable but chalked up some of the allegations to misunderstandings caused by generational differences and his being Italian American (latimes.com/world, AP). Huh? If Cuomo doesn’t resign, the NY State Assembly has the power to impeach him. The NY Assembly is almost done with its impeachment investigation (latimes.com, AP, 8/06/21). Democrat Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said Cuomo could clearly “no longer remain in office.” NY impeachments start in the Assembly. If a majority vote to impeach, the matter moves to the Impeachment Court. NY’s Impeachment Court is made up of the State Senate, minus its majority leader and the seven judges of the state’s highest court. Two-thirds of the Impeachment Court would need to vote for conviction to remove Cuomo (AP, latimes.com, 8/04/21). Cuomo is also being investigated by the Assembly for possibly breaking the law in having members of his staff help write and promote a book praising his leadership in the COVID-19 pandemic. Cuomo was set to earn more than $5 million for this book. The FBI is probing Cuomo’s handling of data related to nursing home COVID-19 deaths. Cuomo may have deliberately hidden the full scope of NY nursing home deaths (nytimes.com, Gold & Shanahan, 8/04/21). Atty. General James has denied any political motivations for the probe which Cuomo himself authorized. While her office oversaw the probe, it was conducted by two outside lawyers, Anne Clark and Joon Kim. Clark and Kim spoke to 179 people, including Cuomo. Cuomo retaliated against his first public accuser, former employee Lindsey Boylan. Investigators said Cuomo’s team sent reporters Boylan’s personnel records within hours of her 12/2020 tweet alleging sexual harassment. They also said the governor’s circle circulated a letter that “attacked” Boylan’s work conduct (latimes.com, AP, 8/04/21).


I previously wrote a blogpost praising Andrew Cuomo for his work as NY Governor. He has a record that includes passing budget deals, legalizing same-sex marriage, and signing legislation that tightened the definition of assault weapons. He took NY from a budget deficit of $10 billion to a $6 billion surplus. He strongly condemned a spate of anti-Semitic attacks, especially the killing of a Hasidic Jew in Monsey, NY. Cuomo was able to get the NY legislature to pass a law against such domestic bigoted terrorists. However, after these more than credible allegations against him of sexual harassment and assaults of multiple women, it is, to paraphrase Al Gore, “time for Cuomo to go.” We can’t tolerate such abhorrent behavior. Should Cuomo resign or be impeached and convicted, Democratic Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul would become the Governor. She would be NY’s first female Governor. After the James report came out, Lt. Gov. Hochul called Cuomo’s behavior “repulsive and unlawful.” She added, “Sexual harassment is unacceptable in any workplace, and certainly not in public service. I believe these brave women and admire their courage coming forward (cnbc.com, Breuninger, 8/03/21).” Meet Kathy Hochul (HOH-kuhl).


Buffalo, NY native Kathy Hochul (62) grew up in an Irish Catholic family. During her early years, Hochul’s father, Jack Courtney, struggled financially. They lived for a time in a trailer. When Kathy Hochul went to college, her father had turned his economic situation around and worked for an information technology company he later headed (Hernandez, nytimes.com, 5/29/11, AP, Thompson, 8/07/21). Hochul received her undergraduate degree at Syracuse University in 1980 and her law degree at D.C.’s Catholic University in 1984 (Hernandez, nytimes.com, 5/29/11 McCarthy, buffalonews.com, 12/07/10). At Syracuse, Hochul lead a boycott of the student bookstore over high prices. She unsuccessfully fought to name the university stadium after Syracuse alumnus and halfback Ernie Davis who was the first African American to win the Heisman Trophy. In 1963, he died of leukemia at age 23. Hochul successfully lobbied Syracuse University to divest from apartheid in S. Africa (Hernandez, nytimes.com, McCarthy, buffalonews.com, AP, 5/18/63).


After law school, Hochul worked for a D.C. law firm (Hernandez, nytimes.com). Hochul then worked as an aide to former Cong. John LaFalce (D-NY) and later for the late NY U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (AP, Thompson , 8/07/21). Cong. La Falce called her someone “with great political skills and a people person (nytimes.com, Glueck & Gold, 8/03/21).” After her Capitol Hill experience, she returned to NY and rose through a series of local posts. These included being elected to the Hamburg Town Board and later becoming Erie County clerk. She served on the Town Board from 1994-2007. In 2007, Hochul was appointed by Dem. Gov. Eliot Spitzer to the office of Erie County Clerk. She successfully ran for election in 2007 to fill the remainder of her predecessor’s term. She ran for re-election in 11/2010 and won with 80% of the vote (McCarthy, buffalonews.com, 4/10/07, webarchive.org, 10/08/11).


In 2011, Hochul ran in the 5/24/2011 special election to replace a retiring GOP Congressman in the NY 26th Congressional District (CD). This relatively conservative district spanned Buffalo to Rochester. Hochul made her race a referendum on GOP plans to gut Medicare and demonstrated her skills as a talented campaigner. In an upset, she defeated her GOP opponent by a 4% margin. Before her election, only three other Democrats had represented this area since the 1850’s (See Election Results, 1833-Present, Wikipedia). Hochul defined herself in Congress as an “independent Democrat.” She opposed Gov. Spitzer’s driver’s license program for illegal immigrants. However, she was pro-choice, and supported Obamacare (Miles, lockportjournal.com, 5/20/11, Terreri, 5/17/11, democratandchronicle.com). In the 2021 election, Hochul’s district was renumbered the 27th CD and her district was made even more Republican. In 2012, she lost her re-election bid to GOPer Chris Collins by two points (nytimes.com, Glueck & Gold, 8/03/21). Collins became the first member of Congress to endorse Trump (Cohen & Cook 2020 Political Almanac). In 2018, Collins was indicted for insider stock trading. He resigned from Congress, but was later pardoned by Trump (cnbc.com, Mangan, 12/23/20). Hochul next served as VP of government relations at M&T Bank Corporation (Glueck & Gold).


In 2014, Governor Cuomo chose her as his running mate for Lt. Governor. Hochul has never been very close to Gov. Cuomo. They have rarely appeared in public together (See nytimes.com, Rubinstein, 8/08/21) A few weeks ago, Hochul assured Manhattan state senator Liz Krueger, “that she was ready to take over if that was required of her (nytimes.com, Rubinstein).” Since 2018, Hochul has changed her position on providing driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants, and now favors it. She believes that “circumstances have now changed (politico.com, Vielkind, 5/31/18).”


Obviously, if Cuomo resigns or is removed by impeachment, Hochul would become NY’s Governor. She would also serve as acting governor during an impeachment trial (Glueck & Gold). Unlike Cuomo, often known for his heavy-handed bullying style, Hochul takes genuine delight in meeting people and in visiting each of NY’s 62 counties each year. She has friends across the state. People walk away with good feelings after talking to her. Sean Mulligan, a government official in the Buffalo area, called Hochul a “very hard worker—one of the hardest-working elected officials in New York State.” He added, “she’d be a good fit to step into that role (nytimes.com, Glueck & Gold).” Sen. Tina Smith, MN’s Lt. Governor, was not too well-known when she stepped into Al Franken’s Senate seat and yet she won two elections in that post. I can’t think of anyone better qualified than Hochul to quickly raise her profile as NY’s next Governor. She has the ability to get right into this challenging job. Again, Gov. Cuomo must go and turn over the reins to super-competent Kathy Hochul.