Governor Kathy Hochul has appointed Congressman Antonio Delgado to be New York’s next lieutenant governor, after Brian Benjamin resigned last month following his indictment on federal corruption charges. Her decision comes hours after she signed new language into law that would allow for the removal of her former running mate from the ballot. Hochul and Delgado are slated to make their first joint public appearance in Albany this afternoon.
“I look forward to working with him to usher in a new era of fairness, equity, and prosperity for communities across the State,” Hochul said in a statement. “We share a belief in working together to get things done for New Yorkers, and Representative Delgado has an incredible record of doing just that in Congress.”
In mid-April, Benjamin surrendered himself to authorities after being indicted on several federal charges including bribery. Benjamin stepped down from his post, which he assumed after Hochul became governor following Andrew Cuomo’s resignation last August. Benjamin pleaded not guilty to the charges and was released on bond.
In the wake of Benjamin’s legal troubles, Hochul began to advocate for a change to state law that would allow for Benjamin’s name to be removed from the upcoming primary ballot and replaced with a new running mate. Despite some reluctance from state lawmakers, Hochul finally got her wish on Monday as both chambers passed legislation that would allow a candidate’s name to be removed if they faced criminal charges. She signed the bill into law that evening. Benjamin, who maintains his innocence of the charges against him, has said he will sign the paperwork needed to take his name off the ballot.
Delgado, a Harvard Law School graduate and Schenectady native, has represented the 19th Congressional District since 2019 after defeating Republican incumbent John Faso to win the seat. With Delgado heading to Albany, Democrats will have to defend an open U.S. House seat in a swing district at a time when their party risks losing control of the chamber to Republicans.