Kathy Hochul’s huge challenge as New York’s next gov

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Faced with universal demands for him to step down and clearly unable to govern, Gov. Andrew Cuomo did the only sane thing: He tendered his resignation. Good riddance. Now Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will take over at a key moment for the state.

She’s largely unknown and untested — but good signs abound: The Buffalo native has called herself “an independent Democrat” and got her start in politics as an aide to Rep. John LaFalce and the late, great Sen. Pat Moynihan, both independent-minded liberals.

When then-Lt. Gov. David Paterson took over in 2008 after a prostitution scandal forced out Gov. Eliot Spitzer, he’d served in the state Senate for decades, including as minority leader. Hochul has years in local government, a term in Congress and seven years as Cuomo’s rarely consulted LG. (Ironically, she led the gov’s “Enough is Enough” sexual-assault-prevention initiative.)

“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,” she tweeted Tuesday. She’s also visited all 62 of the state’s counties every year as LG.

Yet she will preside over a state facing soaring crime and a post-COVID economy struggling to recover, with a disastrous rent-relief program and a leadership void at key agencies such as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Enormous fiscal challenges lie just down the road, and next year’s race for governor will only add complexity.

Worst, she must face down radicalized lawmakers whose agenda — yet more anti-cop measures, raising taxes further and yet more irresponsible state spending and bank-busting programs like single-payer health care — would be disastrous.

Her first order of business, of course: Clean house at the Capitol’s Second Floor, removing Cuomo loyalists, especially those linked to his numerous scandals. But she’ll also need to assemble her own trusted team all across state government.

Paterson managed to see the state through the rocky recovery from the 2008 recession; Hochul may face an even heavier lift. New Yorkers should wish her well.

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