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Saturday, November 26, 2022

New York Gov. Hochul creates electoral hurdle after Met’s arrest

ALBANY, NY ( Associated Press) — A one-man scandal catapulted New York Gov. Kathy Hochul into office. Will the alleged misconduct by another person hurt his/her chances of being employed?

Hochul’s previously easy road to victory in the Democratic primary took a major hit this week when his lieutenant governor, Brian Benjamin, resigned following his arrest in a federal corruption investigation.

One of Hochul’s first major decisions as governor was to appoint Benjamin, who was then a state senator when he took over from Governor Andrew Cuomo, who last summer instead of facing impeachment over sexual assault charges. Resigned, which he denied.

His major opponents in both the primary and the general election shrugged, saying that Hochul chose Benjamin at a time when he was already under scrutiny.

“Either he is constantly shamefully out of the loop, or shamefully enabled through his inaction, and either way it is clear that unless we elect leadership outside the old ways of Albany, then These patterns of scandal and corruption will continue to repeat,” said New York City public advocate Jumane Williams, who is running against Hochul for the Democratic nomination.

Read more: The rise of Kathy Hochul in New York highlights the barriers of women becoming governors

U.S. Representative Tom Suozzi, a Long Island Democrat trying to defeat Hochul, said choosing Benjamin was part of a pattern of poor choices, which he said would cut a deal that would support his hometown’s Buffalo bill. over $1.1. Arab to build and operate a new stadium.

Suozhi tweeted, “Hochul continues to foster a culture of corruption that has spanned months, from salaries to sports insiders and people doing business with the state, and secret budget deals that have resulted in billions of dollars in stadium bills.” And something else happens.”

Hochul, however, has not appeared to lose support from top allies.

News of Benjamin’s arrest and resignation was nearly lost in the noise of a mass shooting on a subway train in New York City.

Hochul fled the city to attend a police news conference about the attack, where he ditched a question about Benjamin, then met with the shooting victims at the hospital and rode the rails in a symbolic statement against fear. .

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“Right now Cathy Hochul has such a significant edge in terms of voting and fundraising, I don’t think troubles for the June primary will hurt her much,” said Fordham University political science professor Christina Greer. “Obviously her opponents would question and question what she knew.”

Federal prosecutors say Benjamin accepted bribes as illegal campaign contributions during an unsuccessful run for New York City’s comptroller.

An indictment says that in exchange for illegal donations, he helped obtain a $50,000 state grant to a non-profit organization controlled by the donor.

Prosecutors said Benjamin offered to help the donor, a real estate developer, obtain a zoning variance from the city in exchange for a $15,000 donation to a political committee. And he said he lied to state officials about the investigation when he was being considered for the appointment of lieutenant governor.

Benjamin’s lawyers said there was “nothing unfair” about Grant and that his client’s action was “plausible — not criminal.”

Hochul used a public radio interview Wednesday to defend his selection of Benjamin, and said the reelection process did not raise red flags.

“It was a surprise, it really was,” Hochul told WNYC host Brian Lehrer. “I made the best decision with the information I had at the time.”

Questions about Benjamin’s use of the campaign committee and spending accounts were the subject of investigation by journalists and state regulators prior to his selection as lieutenant governor, with stories in the daily news about possible use of campaign funds for personal expenses. Like auto repair and a party at a jazz club to celebrate your wedding.

Last week, Hochul reiterated his support for Benjamin and described his campaign’s investigation as “related to other people.”

Hochul – who also said he was not aware of any harassment in Cuomo’s administration until the claims became public – now must strike a fine line with voters, Greer said.

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While she needs to claim ignorance of any wrongdoing by Benjamin, “she doesn’t want to seem like she’s unworthy, as if she doesn’t know what’s going on right below her,” Greer said.

watch: Hochul says he is ready to lead after Cuomo exit

Still, Hochul does have some big advantages. She has raised about $22 million for her election campaign as of January, which dwarfs the $5.4 million raised by Suozhi and the $222,000 raised by Williams.

Attorney General Letitia James, one of the candidates posing a serious challenge, quickly dropped out of the race.

More than half of Democratic voters said they would vote for Hochul in the June primary in the ongoing Siena college election in late March, compared to one-quarter of voters who supported Suzy or Williams.

Democratic strategist Ivan Stawisky said voters would ultimately judge Hochul on the basis of his pocket book and his records.

“The governor being misled by someone who was accused of lying by the federal government probably isn’t a main point for voters,” Stawisky said.

If Democrats stick with Hochul in the primary, she will be the expected favorite over most likely Republican challengers in the heavily blue state.

A wildcard: Cuomo has admitted to thinking about entering late in the race to potentially regain his old job. He has recently appeared in public again, criticizing state Democratic leaders for shifting to the far left and potentially positioning himself for a run.

Cuomo still sits on millions of dollars in campaign funding that he can use to run as an independent candidate, if he so desires.

US Rep. Lee Zeldin, the Republican gubernatorial candidate for Long Island, criticized Hochul on Wednesday for having “zero criticism, condemnation or outrage” for Benjamin.

“She’s getting hit from both sides, it’s a really bad place,” said Republican strategist Alex deGrasse.

Hochul has not named the new lieutenant governor.

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