In two weeks, New York will get a new governor: Kathy Hochul, a daughter of western New York who has risen through public life on the strength of her geniality and work ethic, and amid the fallout of male politicians resigning in disgrace.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday that he would step down., following a state attorney general’s report that found he had sexually harassed at least 11 women, many of them state employees.
He will formally leave office in 14 days, at which point his long-serving lieutenant governor, Hochul, 62, will take his place. Should she run in next year’s election for a full term, as expected, she will have the benefit of being the incumbent candidate.
When she is sworn in, she will make history as the first woman to serve as New York’s governor. That her ascension came by way of a man’s downfall is a testament to the state’s long history of male political dominance, and its equally long history of male misbehavior, something that has become a growing political liability amid shifting social mores around power and gender dynamics.
It is only recently that women have begun to assume the highest offices in the state, and as often as not, they have done so after the men who came before them resigned in disgrace.