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Kathy Hochul Will Soon Make History As The First Woman Governor Of New York

New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks at a ribbon cutting ceremony in the Bronx borough of New York on May 4, 2021.
Seth Wenig
New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks at a ribbon cutting ceremony in the Bronx borough of New York on May 4, 2021.

Updated August 10, 2021 at 2:26 PM ET

New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will become the state's first woman chief executive after Gov. Andrew Cuomo steps down on Aug. 24.

Cuomo announcedhe would resign one week after the state's attorney general, Letitia James, released a scathing report finding that the three-term governor sexually harassed nearly a dozen women and created a hostile work environment.

Cuomo said the transition for Hochul to take over "must be seamless." In his resignation announcement on Tuesday, he called her smart and competent and said, "She can come up to speed quickly."

Hochul said she agreed with the governor's decision to step down.

"It is the right thing to do and in the best interest of New Yorkers," she said in a statement. "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."

Hochul served in Congress before becoming Cuomo's running mate

Hochul first leaped to the national stage in 2011 when she ran in a special election for a House of Representatives seat in one of New York's most conservative districts. She served just one term and lost reelection after the district was redrawn. Cuomo selected her to be his running mate in 2014, and they were sworn in the following year.

In a statement on Twitter after the report's release last week, Hochul said she believed the women who accused Cuomo and called his behavior "repulsive" and "unlawful." She said the New York State Assembly would determine the next steps.

She did not call on Cuomo to resign, explaining, "Because Lieutenant Governors stand next in the line of succession, it would not be appropriate to comment further on the process at this moment."

N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Kathy Hochul at the state's Democratic convention in Melville, N.Y., on May 22, 2014.
Richard Drew / AP
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Hochul at the state's Democratic Convention in Melville, N.Y., in 2014.

New York Democratic lawmakers have been conducting an impeachment investigation since March after allegations of harassment first began to surface. It is unclear in the aftermath of Cuomo's resignation if the governor will also be impeached.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie released a statement following the report last week, saying it is "abundantly clear" Cuomo can no longer remain in office.

"Once we receive all relevant documents and evidence from the Attorney General, we will move expeditiously and look to conclude our impeachment investigation as quickly as possible," Heastie said.

Impeachment of a sitting New York governor has only happened once before William Sulzer, elected governor in 1912 and impeached in 1913so there is little modern-day precedent for the proceedings. According to the state's constitution, impeachment is decided on by a majority of votes in the assembly. The New York State Assembly is controlled by a Democratic majority; 76 votes are needed to impeach the governor.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Deepa Shivaram
Deepa Shivaram is a multi-platform political reporter on NPR's Washington Desk.