New York State Senator Brian Benjamin Named New Lieutenant Governor
(Bloomberg) -- State Senator Brian Benjamin will be New York’s new lieutenant governor, Governor Kathy Hochul said Thursday, naming a politician from the nation’s biggest city to her former job.
“My administration is going to attract the best and the brightest -- people who share my values of working hard for the people of this state and who will get the job done,” Hochul said in a news release. “I am grateful to have him by my side as we implement our vision for a safer, healthier and fairer New York.”
Benjamin, a state senator since 2017 representing Harlem and Manhattan’s Upper West Side, is a graduate of Brown University with an MBA from Harvard Business School. He spent three years as a Morgan Stanley investment banker, according to his biography on the state Senate website.
Hochul, who is from Buffalo, had said she would select someone from New York City to serve as her deputy to bridge the geographic divide in the state and attempt to mend the rancor between the city’s leaders and her predecessor, Andrew Cuomo.
The lieutenant governor is the second highest-ranking position in New York state government. Akin to the role of vice president, the lieutenant governor takes over in the event a governor dies, resigns, is impeached or otherwise incapacitated.
Hochul, 62, was Cuomo’s lieutenant governor for six years. She became the state’s first female governor on Aug. 24, when Cuomo resigned after Attorney General Letitia James found he sexually harassed 11 women.
Hochul will serve out the remainder of his term through December 2022 and has already said she plans to run for re-election. She has said she was unaware of the sexual-harassment allegations before they were made public.
The role and the importance of the lieutenant governor changes from administration to administration. Hochul notably was absent from many major announcements for the past six years, rarely appearing at the daily Covid-19 briefings held by Cuomo. The pair had not spoken for several months when he resigned and she took over.
The lieutenant governor also presides over the state Senate. As a senator, Benjamin “has distinguished himself as a leader in criminal justice reform and affordable housing,” according to his biography on the body’s website. “In 2018 he successfully pushed for the divestment of the state public pension funds from private prisons, and the following year he introduced a bill to forbid state-chartered banks from such investments as well, which helped pressure Bank of America to end their relationship with Geo Group and Core Civic.”
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