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At the moment, Ms. Hochul (pronounced HOH-kuhl) is keeping a low public profile. She canceled her public events last week, following the release of the state attorney general report, and declined to be interviewed for this article.

But behind the scenes, Ms. Hochul, a Democrat, has been preparing for what may well be the inevitable, consulting with her longstanding circle of advisers, and familiarizing herself with the minutiae of the transition process, should Mr. Cuomo resign or be impeached, according to an administration official. (If Mr. Cuomo is impeached by the State Assembly, he must hand the reins of government to Ms. Hochul while he faces trial in the State Senate.)

Ms. Hochul has been fielding numerous appeals from advocacy groups eager to brief her on their key issues, and from government leaders seeking to establish or expand relationships with her.

A couple of weeks ago, Liz Krueger, a state senator from Manhattan, and Ms. Hochul met at Pershing Square, a restaurant across from Grand Central Terminal. As they shared an avocado salad, Ms. Krueger asked Ms. Hochul how she felt about the possibility that Mr. Cuomo might resign.

“She assured me that she was ready to take over if that was what was required of her,” Ms. Krueger said.

Being prepared has been a hallmark of Ms. Hochul’s more than quarter-century spent in local, state and federal government, beginning with a 14-year stint on the town board of Hamburg, in western New York.

She grew up outside of Buffalo, in a Catholic family that faced economic hardships. She graduated from Syracuse University, received a law degree at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and entered private practice. Ms. Hochul quickly turned to government, serving as an aide to Mr. LaFalce and U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan.



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