According to Article 4 of the New York State Constitution, Hochul would take over as governor – becoming the Empire State’s 57th chief executive and first female governor in the state’s nearly 250-year history.
“If something were to happen to the governor, she’s ready on day one,” Erie County Democratic Party chairman Jeremy Zellner, a longtime Hochul friend and colleague, told Fox News. “Kathy Hochul is somebody who grew up in the shadows of the steel plants here in Lackawanna and Buffalo and has served on several different levels of government.”
The 62-year-old Hochul is a Buffalo area native and a Syracuse University graduate. She earned her law degree from Catholic University in Washington. She worked as legal counsel and legislative assistant to then-Rep. John LaFalce and the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
Hochul served 14 years on the Hamburg town council and later for four years as the Erie County clerk. In 2011, she pulled an upset, winning a special election to Congress in a challenging district. But she lost reelection a year later after redistricting reshaped the district.
Cuomo chose Hochul as his running mate when he ran in 2014 for a second term.
Hochul chairs New York’s 10 Regional Economic Development Councils and co-chairs the state’s Heroin and Opioid Abuse Task Force.
According to her official state biography, “Hochul spearheaded Gov. Cuomo’s Enough is Enough campaign to combat sexual assault on college campuses, hosting and attending more than 25 events. As the highest-ranking female elected official in New York State, she continues to be a champion for women and families across the state.”
Zellner used the word “tenacious” to describe Hochul, telling Fox News that “Kathy’s never been one to shy away from a fight. She’s also somebody who’s been all over this state, someone who can unite urban and rural communities.”
He described her as “very pragmatic” but added that Hochul, who serves as chair of the Democratic Lieutenant Governors Association, has “also been a progressive champion along with the governor on many of his issues.”
Hochul could become the second New York lieutenant governor in 13 years to take over as governor.
After Gov. Eliot Spitzer resigned in 2008 amid a prostitution scandal – just over a year after being elected – Lt. Gov. David Paterson finished the remainder of Spitzer’s term.
Paterson, the first Black governor of New York and the first legally blind person to serve as governor of any state, launched a campaign to run in 2010 for a full term in office. But facing poor polling and pressure from within his own party, Paterson dropped his bid in early 2010, opening the door for then-state Attorney General Cuomo to run for governor.