• Mahsa Forghani

The Resignation of Governor Cuomo and What it Means for New York

Updated: Jan 13


Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York since 2011, resigned on August 23, 2021, after a series of sexual misconduct allegations. (Marc A. Hermann/MTA New York City Transit/Flickr)


On February 24, 2021, Lindsey Boylan, a former aide to Andrew Cuomo, published an article on her personal website detailing her experiences working under Cuomo ― and the inappropriate behaviors she endured. The ex-Governor of New York reportedly asked her to play strip poker, went out of his way to touch her unnecessarily, and kissed her on the lips without consent. Since then, 10 more women have come forward and shared similar encounters with Cuomo.


Coupled with a dispute over his administration’s handling of data related to COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes, Cuomo has been in a lot of hot water. On August 3, when abuse allegations were at their peak, the administration released a video of Cuomo denying most major accusations, while still apologizing for more minor ones, and making it clear he did not intend to resign despite the public’s desire for him to do so. Exactly one week later, after observing the public’s growing distrust in his administration, Cuomo resigned from his position as governor of New York. This article seeks to explain what happens next for New York ― its new administration and their policies, what Cuomo’s resignation means for the state, and how it will handle upcoming issues.


Who is Kathy Hochul?


In February, then-Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul visited state partners working to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine in New York. One of Hochul's stated goals as governor is to address COVID-19, especially relating to the Delta Variant. (New York National Guard/Flickr)


Two weeks after the initial announcement, Cuomo’s resignation went into effect. Due to the gap, Cuomo’s successor, Kathy Hochul, had only 14 days to be briefed on her new position. Hochul, (rhymes with ‘local’), former Lieutenant Governor of New York, is a member of the Democratic Party and has held the position second to Cuomo since 2014. She was selected to be his running mate during the 2014 gubernatorial election; however, many sources indicate that Hochul was never a part of Cuomo’s inner circle. She reportedly only attended one of his daily press conferences during the pandemic, and he famously kept her name out of his memoir which was published mid-crisis. Despite this, Cuomo still wished her the best at the end of his farewell speech on August 23: “We all wish her success.”


Hochul assumed office on August 24, which now turns the focus off of Cuomo and onto her. It is important to understand the implications of her governance, both in terms of her policies and how they will affect New York. Hochul is known to be a Democrat, like Cuomo, though she identifies as a bit more centrist. She’s been known to make the most out of her former position as lieutenant governor, as she made it her goal to travel around New York in-person in order to advocate for various projects, policies, etc.


Hochul has many traditionally Democratic views, including ― but not limited to ― support for pro-choice, same-sex marriage, Medicare, and a $15 minimum wage. However, she also has a history of holding more conservative views. In 2012, the National Rifle Association (NRA) gave her endorsements which she promoted in an attempt to win over a conservative district of New York, although she eventually lost to Chris Collins. Hochul also gained attention when she opposed then-Governor Eliot Spitzer’s plan to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain drivers licenses in 2007. After taking a break from politics, she came back in 2014 with a seemingly newfound Democratic appreciation. Hochul has stated that her former opinions on issues like gun control and immigration have since changed and become more aligned with the liberal agenda.


How the New Administration Will Affect New York


In her first few days as governor, Hochul has immediately sprung into action and is seemingly intent on dismantling much of Cuomo’s work from his time in office. She has released an updated ― and supposedly, more accurate ― COVID-19 death toll for the state. Her new count shows 12,000 more deaths than the ex-governor’s version. She’s also replaced many of his staffers with her own, and has started getting closer to notorious opposers of Cuomo, notably Mayor De Blasio of New York City. But despite her productive first days in office, Hochul and the entire state of New York are likely facing tumultuous circumstances, given the problems that have been hanging over the city long before she was appointed.


The clearest issue is the Delta Variant of the COVID-19 virus. The spread of this new, deadly strain of the virus poses a major problem to the state of New York, whose original coronavirus cases were some of the worst in the nation. Hochul has listed dealing with COVID-19 as one of her main priorities as governor. Her “Day One Initiatives” include getting children back to school and vaccinating people who work at schools, increasing the vaccination rate for all New Yorkers, and preparing for the booster shots that have been recommended by the CDC. Her actions stand in contrast to Cuomo’s, as one of his last controversies before resigning dealt with the alleged false information his administration provided regarding the number of deaths in New York nursing homes.


Beside the threat of the Delta Variant, the state has been dealing with issues that have spanned over long periods of time. Hochul is charged with remedying poverty and eviction in New York, a subway system that requires more funding, the need for more congestion pricing (which she stated she will try to fix soon), and undocumented immigrants, an issue that she has seemingly had a change of beliefs on. While all these problems persist, undergoing a transition of power was risky. Still, many believe it was necessary to assure New York citizens.


Transitions of power can sometimes mark uncertainty, and many New Yorkers feel they have a right to be worried when such a transition happens. After 10 years of Cuomo in power, a sudden change due to frightening allegations is jolting, for both New York and its new leader, Kathy Hochul. Only time will tell how her leadership shapes the state of New York.


 

Sources & Further Reading

https://lindseyboylan4ny.medium.com/my-story-of-working-with-governor-cuomo-e664d4814b4e

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/24/nyregion/cuomo-lindsey-boylan-harassment.html

https://apnews.com/article/cuomo-resignation-what-to-know-4b4c2762970620dfcb1e912692d376f1

https://kathyhochul.com/bio/

https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/08/who-is-andrew-cuomos-lieutenant-governor-kathy-hochul.html

https://nypost.com/2020/10/18/cuomos-covid-19-book-omits-mention-of-lt-gov-kathy-hochul/

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/08/23/cuomo-to-step-down-as-top-aide-says-he-has-no-interest-in-running-for-office.html

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2021/08/10/kathy-hochul-profile-first-female-governor-ny-political-views/5555352001/

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/13/opinion/kathy-hochul-governor.html

https://www.news10.com/news/kathy-hochul-a-look-back-at-her-policy-history/

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/30/nyregion/kathy-hochul-cuomo.html

https://apnews.com/article/andrew-cuomo-health-coronavirus-pandemic-7312b49695e726eda8d59848e82271c5

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/13/nyregion/kathy-hochul-ny-governor-pandemic.html

https://www.saratogatodaynewspaper.com/home/item/14420-kathy-hochul-sworn-in-as-ny-governor-sets-fighting-delta-variant-as-priority