Two different outlets reported this week that Governor Kathy Hochul was close to being booted out of Albany before Andrew Cuomo stepped down.
The New York Post first reported that Cuomo intended to remove Hochul from the gubernatorial ticket as lieutenant governor before running for his fourth term in office. Cuomo reportedly informed Hochul of his plan during a January phone call. Sources told the paper that Cuomo had also considered replacing Hochul as his running mate in 2018; ultimately, Hochul ended up staying on the ticket that year, surviving a primary challenge from Jumaane Williams, who was a city councilman at the time.
The Washington Post confirmed the Post’s reporting, adding that top staffers in Cuomo’s office attempted to find Hochul a role in the Biden administration in order to remove her from the fourth-term ticket. Sources told the paper that Cuomo was looking for a lieutenant governor candidate who could offer “a deeper political pull with minority communities.”
Reportedly, Hochul said she would only depart for a higher position such as an ambassadorship, something that Biden officials said wasn’t possible. Other potential roles were discussed, but talks slowed as Cuomo’s political troubles grew.
Why the unflattering reports are emerging now is not clear, but they come as Hochul is seeking to distance herself from the former governor — who is known for exacting political vengeance on his foes. Hochul has pushed out many holdovers from the Cuomo administration, including top officials such as state health commissioner Howard Zucker, who was embroiled in a controversy over the Cuomo administration’s handling of nursing homes during the pandemic. In a recent press release, Hochul’s office took a not-so-subtle shot at Cuomo, saying that the new boss “immediately brought more transparency to Albany” by releasing accurate nursing-home data. Cuomo’s administration was accused of altering the number of reported COVID-19 deaths that occurred in those facilities.
In the wake of the reports, Hochul confirmed that Cuomo wanted her off the ticket while speaking to reporters this week.
“It’s an open secret that we were not close. This was attempted at the end of the 2014 primary, this was attempted in 2018, and I’m still standing,” Hochul said. “I believe that I have a right to represent the people who put their faith in me, and I plan to continue to.”