New York state lawmakers quickly passed legislation to remove former Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin from the June primary ballot amid investigations into campaign fraud. Shortly after, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced her new running mate U.S. Rep Antonio Delgado.

In an address on Twitter, Benjamin withdrew his name from the ballot after the law to remove him was passed this week. “I will sign the necessary paperwork to remove myself from the ballot. I am innocent of these unsubstantiated charges,” said Benjamin. “However, I would be unable to serve under these circumstances. I want to thank all of my constituents and supporters for giving me the opportunity to serve.”

At a conference upstate, Hochul excitedly announced Delgado as the new lieutenant governor who will eventually take office alongside her.

“I know he’ll work for every New Yorker upstate and downstate,” said Hochul about Delgado. “He’ll work for working families because he has a beautiful one of his own.”

Delgado is an Afro Latino upstate New York native from Schenectady, currently serving the 19th congressional district across Oneonta, Liberty, Kingston, Hudson, and Delhi counties. He chairs the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit. He has a reputation for passing bipartisan legislation. As an aside, Delgado is also a part of the upstate New York basketball hall of fame and played as a semi-pro in Puerto Rico.

“Democracy does not happen on its own,” said Delgado at the conference. “People have to hold leaders accountable, leaders have to want to be accountable. That is the work. We must do everything in our power to keep democracy close to the will of the people. That is how we restore people’s faith in the integrity of the system.”

Hochul said the vacancy committee approved Delgado’s name on the ballot on Tuesday, May 3, but there’s still the question of transitioning offices which will take some time.

Considering the last candidate resigned in scandal, Hochul said she understands people’s concerns and that her legal team has assembled a “very, very thorough” team for the vetting process. Delgado said he wasn’t worried about the “external dynamics” surrounding the lieutenant governor’s race.

Hochul didn’t set an official date for a special election to replace Delgado in congress yet. The statute states that a special election date has to be set within the next 10 days, she said, but they haven’t figured out what it will look like yet. Hochul added that she believes that the statewide primaries will still be in June.

Ariama C. Long is a Report for America corps member and writes about culture and politics in New York City for The Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by visiting:

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