Hochul narrows search for New York’s lieutenant governor

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New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks at the state Capitol, Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021 in Albany, N.Y. Hochul is preparing to take the reins of power after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced he would resign from office. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)

(AP) – New York state Sens. Jamaal Bailey and Brian Benjamin are emerging as top contenders in the search for New York’s next lieutenant governor, a person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press.

Bailey and Benjamin, both from New York City, are among several candidates being vetted by Kathy Hochul and her team and have, in recent days, emerged as the leading contenders, the person said.

The person could not publicly discuss the internal deliberations and spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity.

Earlier this week, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced he would resign after increasing calls for his impeachment after an investigation found he sexually harassed 11 women. He is set to leave office on Aug. 24 when Hochul, who has been lieutenant governor since 2015, will take over.

In an interview on CBS’s “Face The Nation” on Sunday, Hochul, who hails from the Buffalo area, said she had narrowed her search to focus on candidates from New York City.

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“Even though I’ve spent thousands of hours in New York City and I’m well familiar with the challenges, I want someone who lives there,” she said. “I want someone who understands the challenges firsthand.”

Hochul, who will be New York’s first female governor, is also considering naming Kathryn Garcia as the director of state operations, a coveted position in the state administration, the person said.

The position of lieutenant governor has largely been a ceremonial role. During Hochul’s time in office, she helped lead economic reopening efforts in western New York amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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