New York’s governor-in-waiting needs a no. 2 —and is eyeing a political ally from downstate who can help her keep the job.
Kathy Hochul, who takes over from Gov. Cuomo on Aug. 24, has been mulling two state senators from the Big Apple to assume her current post as lieutenant governor, sources told The Post.
Jamaal Bailey from the Bronx and Harlem’s Brian A. Benjamin are under consideration for the coveted spot, they said.
“She wants a downstate ally to run for re-elect,” one insider said. “She’s trying to map her political future. She intends and desires to be governor and is trying to determine what makes the most sense in choosing a lieutenant governor to combat a primary.”
Hochul, a former Congresswoman, has mostly labored in obscurity under Cuomo, but as the state’s first female governor she will almost certainly face a bruising primary battle in 2022. Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and state Attorney General Letitia James have been mentioned as possible contenders.
Both Bailey and Benjamin, who are black and represent large black constituencies in the five boroughs, could help Hochul against potential primary challengers by preventing them from consolidating the African-American vote in 2022, some political analysts believe.
“It ties up a lot of blacks in the city and makes it a lot harder for Letitia James to go at her as a black candidate,” said Hank Sheinkopf, a veteran Democratic political consultant. Bailey was better positioned to help Hochul on that front, Sheinkopf added.
“Jamaal Bailey is the better choice. He is a [New York State Assembly Speaker Carl] Heastie lieutenant. He brings an intact organization, which Benjamin doesn’t, and Benjamin’s district is less black,” Sheinkopf said. “Taking a black man who is to the left of [Hochul] will give her balance. That’s why she [should do] it.”
Hochul is also floating the possibility of an all-woman ticket, potentially picking a female state legislator from downstate, though it’s unclear if she has anyone specific in mind, sources said.
Gov. Cuomo is set to leave office on Aug. 24 in the wake of the sexual misconduct scandal that forced his resignation. That’s when Hochul will move into the governor’s mansion, while the job of lieutenant governor will be temporarily be filled by Senate boss Andrea Stewart-Cousins.
Reps for Hochul declined to comment.