Various news outlets reported Tuesday that Gov. Kathy Hochul picked Harlem State Senator Brian Benjamin to serve as her lieutenant governor.
On Thursday, Hochul and Benjamin are expected to make the announcement at an event in the city.
Benjamin has served in the State Senate representing the 30th District since 2017. In a previous interview with the AmNews, Benjamin said he was proud to be considered to be part of the team to help New York State. He said he’s known Hochul since he was first elected.
“I believe she should pick the person who she believes is most qualified and most able to help her govern the state of New York,” Benjamin said. “Whoever she decides to pick for lieutenant governor, I would imagine it would be one of the folks that she would seek counsel from to help her lead the state.”
Hochul was sworn in as governor of New York State on Tuesday, Aug. 24––two weeks after former Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced his resignation from office amid sexual harassment allegations. Reports surfaced that Benjamin and Bronx State Sen. Jamaal Bailey were both considered for lieutenant governor.
Benjamin said Hochul wanted to select someone from New York City. Hochul is a native of Buffalo, NY where she previously served as county clerk of Erie County and as a Congresswoman representing New York’s 26th District in Buffalo.
“I know she cares about New York State, and she cares about New York City,” he said. “One of the reasons why I believe she said she’s looking for a lieutenant governor from the city is because she knows it’s important to have that sort of representation.”
Making some history of his own, Benjamin will be New York State’s second Black lieutenant governor. David Paterson was the first serving as lieutenant governor from 2007 to 2008 under Gov. Eliot Spitzer. Paterson became New York State’s first Black governor after Spitzer resigned following a prostitution scandal.
“As a native son of Harlem, this is a good pick for the people of our community, who will now have an even greater voice in the halls of state government,” said former Harlem State Assemblyman Keith L.T. Wright.
Queens State Sen. James Sanders said in a statement that Benjamin’s experience in the Senate will be key in helping that state’s budget issues and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I cannot think of a better person to take on this challenging role,” Sanders said. “I have had the opportunity to work with Sen. Benjamin on legislation many times including a comprehensive bill to restrict no-knock warrants, and it has always been a joyous and productive process.”
The racial makeup of New York State leadership with Attorney General Letitia James and Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli is now an evenly diverse mix of two Blacks, two whites and two men and two women.
Hochul previously said that when she finishes the remainder of Cuomo’s term she plans to run for governor for a full term making Benjamin her running mate. When asked about running for governor himself, Benjamin said he always keeps his options open.
Benjamin currently serves as the chairman of the State Senate’s committee on revenue and budget. When he’s sworn in as lieutenant governor his Senate seat will need to be filled.