NEW YORK — In two weeks, Gov. Andrew Cuomo will step down and Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul will step up, becoming the state’s first governor from upstate New York in about a century.
Nathan Miller, who was from Cortland County, was the last one to take the reins in 1920. Cuomo, David Paterson and Eliot Spitzer were from New York City. George Pataki was from Westchester County.
Hochul, a Hamburg native, previously served in Congress representing a conservative western New York district. She also served on the Hamburg Town Board, and spent one term as Erie county clerk.
“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 said in a statement Tuesday.
To many New Yorkers, Hochul is an unknown quantity, serving since 2015 in a job that is mostly ceremonial. A typical afternoon in late July had her announcing job training funding in Utica, discussing manufacturing in Rome and touring downtown Cazenovia with the small town’s mayor.
Hochul has not publicly expressed whether she would pursue a full term as governor in 2022.
An upstate candidate running for any statewide office in New York faces a daunting challenge, but even more so for the governor’s office, which has historically drawn from New York City.
At a news briefing last Wednesday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has a famously contentious relationship with Cuomo, said he’s gotten to know Hochul over the last few years and “she strikes me as a very reasonable person.”
“I believe if Kathy Hochul becomes governor, she’ll be an honest broker,” he said then. “We’ll be able to work together.”