Conservative Party chair says Hochul should be “fully immersed” in state matters in case Cuomo leaves office

Photo by Darren McGee, Office of the Governor
January 25, 2021-Buffalo- Governor Andrew Cuomo with Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul hold a COVID-19 press briefing update in Buffalo at Roswell Park. The New York State Conservative Party chair said Friday that Hochul should become “fully immersed” in state government in case Cuomo voluntarily or involuntarily leaves office amid allegations of harassment by female employees.

With serious allegations and a possible impeachment surrounding Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York state lawmakers have been busy at work trying to form a contingency plan in case of his removal from office.

If Cuomo resigns or is impeached, the position of governor would automatically go to the Lieutenant Governor, an office held by Kathy Hochul since 2015. As Lieutenant Governor, Hochul has served largely as Gov. Cuomo’s “road warrior,” according to an article by The Intelligencer. The article describes her role as that of a “spokesperson” for the Cuomo administration.

Conservative Party Chairman Gerald Kassar released a statement late last week asking that Hochul be included in “all key state matters” to ensure continuity of state government in case Cuomo does leave office.

“Andrew Cuomo’s tenure as governor could abruptly come to an end, and it’s critically important that Lt. Governor Kathleen Hochul be fully immersed in all state government matters, down to the granular level, in case such an eventuality takes place,” Kassar said. “Lt. Governor Hochul should immediately and significantly be included in the state budget negotiations with Senate and Assembly leadership, COVID vaccine rollout planning, federal relief negotiations with the Biden Administration, and other core state operations. Governor Cuomo, whose position as governor appears untenable, should make that happen today. The state must be fully ready for whatever comes next.”

While Cuomo has stated that he will not step down, he has also been telling the media to, “wait for the facts.” While he remains resistant to stepping down currently, if “the facts” do paint an unflattering picture of Cuomo, there is still a chance that he may resign. If not, then there is also still a chance that he may be impeached.

While Hochul is currently serving as the Lieutenant Governor, a position which most would assume inherently affords her intimate knowledge of the Governor’s Office and its plans, a recent article published by The Buffalo News suggests that is not the case. 

“Hochul isn’t exactly Cuomo’s right-hand woman,” the article reads, adding that “…Hochul has never been part of Cuomo’s inner circle.”

While this fact may provide her a necessary degree of separation from Cuomo’s various scandals, her lack of integration into the inner workings of the Governor’s Office could make for a less than smooth transition of power in the case that she becomes the governor of New York, Kassar said.

“Continuity of government in the midst of significant challenges must be ensured,” said Kassar. “That doesn’t appear to be the case today, based on the Lt. Governor’s public schedule. “