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NEW YORK — Gov. Andrew Cuomo spent years as one of the most powerful men in state politics but with his rapid loss of influence and support in the wake of a sexual harassment report by the New York attorney general’s office, speculation has risen about who may run for governor next year.

If Gov. Andrew Cuomo leaves office — whether through resignation or impeachment — before the end of his term in 2022, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul would step in to lead the state.

That would place Hochul in a solid position to launch a campaign for governor in 2022. However, if she does, she could be joining a very crowded field of candidates.

Siena College professor Leonard Cutler said New Yorkers are looking for someone who they can trust and respect.

“Somebody who has credibility; somebody who has legitimacy,” he said.

There’s a growing list of New Yorkers who may run for governor — Democrats and Republicans, some influential and others controversial.

Political consultant Jerry Kremer, who served as an assemblyman for 13 terms, said it’s not uncommon to see speculation swirl around a scandal like Cuomo’s.

“The sharks are in the water. It’s unfortunate, but it’s typical of politics that when it looks like there’s going to be an opening they start to swim,” Kremer said. “Some of the party elders are said to be approaching former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and to ask her if she would run.”

The evolving list of potential gubernatorial contenders includes people who’ve held statewide office, such as state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, and Brooklyn native Attorney General Letitia James.

When New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was asked this week if he might step into the 2022 race for governor, he said he hadn’t ruled it out.

NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who narrowly lost his 2018 bid for lieutenant governor, recently toured several upstate New York communities to discuss gun violence. Afterward, he hinted he may jump into the race as well, but dodged a full commitment when asked directly.

“I haven’t said I’m potentially exploring a run. I’m actually focused on the general election for the public advocate’s race,” in November, Williams told PIX11 News.

As far as potential Republican contenders, Gotham Gazette executive editor Ben Max said it’s important to remember the state is not entirely blue.

“When you get out of the city, the state has much more balance in terms of Democrats and Republicans,” he said.

Lee Zeldin, a Republican congressman from Long Island, has already launched his bid for the governor’s office. He raised over $4 million in the first three months of his campaign.

Other Republican hopefuls include former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino and Andrew Giuliani, the son of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.