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Kathy Hochul
Kathy Hochul, November 2017.jpeg
Hochul in 2017
57th Governor of New York
Assumed office
August 24, 2021
Preceded byAndrew Cuomo
Lieutenant Governor of New York
In office
January 1, 2015 – August 23, 2021
GovernorAndrew Cuomo
Preceded byRobert Duffy
Succeeded byAndrea Stewart-Cousins (acting)
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 26th district
In office
June 1, 2011 – January 3, 2013
Preceded byChris Lee
Succeeded byChris Collins
8th County Clerk of Erie County
In office
April 10, 2007 – June 1, 2011
Preceded byDavid Swarts
Succeeded byChris Jacobs
Member of the Hamburg Town Board
In office
January 3, 1994 – April 10, 2007
Preceded byPatrick Hoak
Succeeded byRichard Smith
Personal details
Kathleen Courtney

(1958-08-27) August 27, 1958 (age 63)
Buffalo, New York, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
(m. 1984)
ResidenceExecutive Mansion
EducationSyracuse University (BA)
Catholic University (JD)
  • Lawyer
  • politician

Kathleen Courtney Hochul (/ˈhkəl/ HOH-kəl; born August 27, 1958) is an American lawyer and politician serving as the 57th governor of New York since August 2021.[1] A member of the Democratic Party, Hochul is the first female governor of New York.[2]

After serving on the Hamburg Town Board and as Deputy Erie County Clerk, Hochul was appointed Erie County Clerk in 2007. She was elected to a full term as Erie County Clerk in 2007 and reelected in 2010. In May 2011, Hochul won a four-candidate special election for New York's 26th congressional district to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of then-United States Representative Chris Lee,[3][4] becoming the first Democrat to represent the district in 40 years. She served as a United States Representative from 2011 to 2013. Hochul was defeated for reelection in 2012 by Chris Collins after the district's boundaries and demographics were changed in the decennial reapportionment process. Hochul later worked as a government relations executive for the Buffalo-based M&T Bank.[5]

In the 2014 New York gubernatorial election, Andrew Cuomo selected Hochul as his running mate; after they won the election, Hochul was inaugurated as lieutenant governor. Cuomo and Hochul were reelected in 2018. Hochul took office as governor of New York on August 24, 2021, after Cuomo resigned amid allegations of sexual harassment.

Early life and education

Hochul was born Kathleen Courtney in Buffalo, New York, the second of the six children of John P. "Jack" Courtney, then a college student and clerical worker, and Patricia Ann "Pat" (Rochford) Courtney, a homemaker.[6][7] Hochul's family struggled financially during her early years and for a time lived in a trailer near a steel plant.[6] By the time Hochul was in college, however, her father was working for the information technology company he later headed.[6] Her family is Irish Catholic, with roots in Kerry.[8]

Hochul became politically active during her college years at Syracuse University, leading a boycott of the student bookstore over high prices and an unsuccessful effort to name the university stadium after alumnus running back, NFL draft pick, and cancer victim Ernie Davis.[6][9] She successfully lobbied the university to divest from apartheid South Africa, and in spring 1979, the student newspaper The Daily Orange awarded her an "A", citing the campus changes as evidence for the grade.[9] She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from the Maxwell School of Syracuse University in 1980 and a Juris Doctor from the Catholic University Columbus School of Law in 1984.[6][10][11]

Early political career

After graduating from law school, Hochul began working for a Washington, D.C. law firm, but she found the work unsatisfying.[6] She then worked as legal counsel and legislative assistant to U.S. Representative John LaFalce and U.S. Senator Daniel Moynihan, and for the New York State Assembly, before seeking elected office.[12][13]

Hochul became involved in local issues as a supporter of small businesses facing competition from Walmart stores[13] and, in the process, caught the attention of local Democratic leaders.[14] On January 3, 1994, the Hamburg Town Board voted to appoint her to the vacant seat on the board caused by Patrick H. Hoak's resignation to become town supervisor.[15][16] She was elected to a full term in November 1994, on the Democratic and Conservative lines,[17][18] and was re-elected in 1998, 2002, and 2006. She resigned on April 10, 2007,[19] and was succeeded by former state assemblymember Richard A. Smith.[20] While on the board, she led efforts to remove toll booths on parts of the New York State Thruway system.[21][22]

In May 2003, Erie County Clerk David Swarts appointed Hochul as his deputy.[12][17] Governor Eliot Spitzer named Swarts to his administration in January 2007 and appointed Hochul to succeed Swarts as county clerk in April 2007.[19] In an intervention that raised her statewide profile, she opposed Spitzer's proposal to allow undocumented immigrants to apply for a driver's license without producing a social security card, and said that if the proposal went into effect she would seek to have any such applicants arrested.[23][24] She was elected later in 2007 to fill the remainder of Swarts's term.[25][26] She ran for reelection on four ballot lines: Democratic, Conservative, Independence and Working Families Party, defeating Republican Clifton Bergfeld in November 2010 with 80 percent of the vote.[13][27]

Following Hochul's departure as county clerk, a backlog of mail was discovered by newly elected County Clerk Chris Jacobs, who later said that $792,571 in checks were found in the backlogged mail.[28] As county clerk, Hochul had been in the process of implementing a new system for handling real estate documents when she left after being elected to Congress. Jacobs said that $9,000 were spent in overtime to deposit checks and file unopened documents that had accumulated in the interim period after Hochul's departure, while the office was adjusting to the new system.[28]

United States House of Representatives (2011–2013)

2011 special election

Hochul ran in the May 24, 2011, special election to fill the seat in New York's 26th congressional district left vacant by the resignation of Chris Lee. She was the Democratic Party and Working Families Party nominee.[29] Hochul's residence in Hamburg, just outside the 26th district, became an issue during her campaign, though it did not disqualify her from seeking the seat.[30] One month after her victory, she moved into the district.[30][31]

The Republican and Conservative Party nominee, State Assemblymember Jane Corwin, was at first strongly favored to win in the Republican-leaning district, which had sent a Republican to Congress for the previous four decades.[6][32][33] A late April poll had Corwin leading Hochul by 36% to 31%; Tea Party candidate Jack Davis trailed at 23%.[34] An early May poll gave Hochul a lead of 35% to 31%,[35] and shortly thereafter the nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report called the race a toss-up.[36] Additional polling in the days immediately before the election had Hochul leading by four- and six-point margins.[37][38]

A Washington Post article noted that in the face of a possible Hochul victory, there was already a "full blown spin war" about the meaning of the result. The article said that Democrats viewed the close race as a result of Republicans' budget proposal The Path to Prosperity, and, in particular, their proposal for Medicare reform. Republicans viewed it as the result of Davis's third-party candidacy.[39]

The campaign featured a number of negative television ads, with FactCheck accusing both sides of "taking liberties with the facts". In particular, FactCheck criticized the Democrats' ads for claiming that Corwin would "essentially end Medicare", even though the plan left Medicare intact for current beneficiaries.[33] The organization also faulted the Republicans for ads portraying Hochul as a puppet of former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and for claiming that Hochul planned to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits.[33]

Campaign funding

Hochul was endorsed by EMILY's List, a political action committee that supports pro-choice Democratic women candidates.[40][41] She was the fifth largest recipient of EMILY's List funds in 2011, receiving more than $27,000 in bundled donations.[41] The Democrat and Chronicle endorsed Hochul "for her tenacity and independence",[42] while The Buffalo News endorsed her for her positions on preserving Medicare and her record of streamlining government.[43]


Hochul defeated Corwin 47% to 43%, with Davis receiving 9% and Green Party candidate Ian Murphy 1%.[citation needed]

2012 election

In the 2012 election, Hochul's district was renumbered the 27th district. She lost to Chris Collins, 51% to 49%. She was endorsed by the National Rifle Association (NRA).[44]


Hochul during the 112th Congress
Hochul during the 112th Congress

In Hochul's first few weeks in office, she co-sponsored bills with Brian Higgins to streamline the passport acquisition process. She also met with then-President Barack Obama about the economy and job creation and introduced a motion to restore the Republican cuts to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. She looked for ways to reduce the federal budget deficit and expressed support for reducing Medicaid spending as long as the reductions would not be achieved in the form of block grants offered to states, as proposed in the Republican budget blueprint. She also spoke with Obama about ending tax breaks for oil companies and protecting small businesses.[45]

While campaigning for Congress, Hochul called herself an "independent Democrat".[13] In an interview with the Lockport Union-Sun & Journal, she cited as examples of her independence her opposition to then-Governor Eliot Spitzer's driver's license program for illegal immigrants and her opposition to then-Governor David Paterson's 2010 proposal to raise revenue by requiring all vehicle owners to buy new license plates.[13]

Hochul was one of 17 Democrats to join Republicans in supporting a resolution finding United States Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress relating to the ATF gunwalking scandal, a vote on which the NRA, which supported the resolution, announced it would be scoring lawmakers.[46] Later in 2012, Hochul "trumpeted" her endorsement by the NRA and noted that she was just one of two New York Democrats to receive its support.[47]


On September 17, 2011, Robert J. McCarthy noted that Hochul and her election opponent Jack Davis agreed on their opposition to free trade. "We saw what happened with NAFTA; the promises never materialized", she said of the North American Free Trade Agreement. "If I have to stand up to my own party on this, I'm willing to do so."[48]


During her congressional campaign, Hochul favored offering incentives to develop alternative energy.[21]

In June 2011, Hochul opposed legislation that would cut funding for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) by 44%, on the grounds that the CFTC curbs speculation in oil and the resulting layoffs of CFTC personnel would "make it easier for Big Oil companies and speculators to take advantage of ... consumers".[49]

Fiscal issues

While running for Congress, Hochul supported raising taxes on those making more than $500,000 per year.[21] She opposed new free trade agreements then under consideration, saying, "We don't need to look any further than Western New York to see that these policies do not work." She believes that free trade agreements such as NAFTA and CAFTA have suppressed U.S. wages and benefits and caused job loss in the U.S.[50]

Hochul called the summer 2011 debt ceiling issue "a distraction" to which the American people should not be subjected.[51][clarification needed]

Hochul acknowledged during her campaign that substantial cuts must be made in the federal budget, and said she would consider cuts in all entitlement programs. But she expressed opposition to the Republican plan that would turn Medicare into a voucher system, saying it "would end Medicare as we know it".[21][52] She said money could be saved in the Medicare program by eliminating waste and purchasing prescription drugs in bulk,[21] and that the creation of more jobs would alleviate Medicare and Social Security budget shortfalls due to increased collections of payroll taxes.[21]

On November 19, 2011, Brian Tumulty of WGRZ reported that Hochul had voted for a balanced budget amendment, which she called "a bipartisan solution".[53]

Health care

Hochul expressed support for the Affordable Care Act passed by the 111th Congress and said during her campaign that she would not vote to repeal it.[21] In response to a constituent's question during a town-hall meeting in February 2012, she was booed for saying that the federal government was "not looking to the Constitution" under the Obama administration requirement that non-religious employers provide their workers with insurance coverage for birth control.[54][55] A spokesman later said she had misspoken, but did not clarify her answer.[55]

Social issues

Hochul has said she is pro-choice.[56]

Committee assignments

Lieutenant governor of New York (2015–2021)

Campaign and election

Hochul with assembly majority leader Joseph Morelle at the 2014 Labor Day parade in Rochester, New York
Hochul with assembly majority leader Joseph Morelle at the 2014 Labor Day parade in Rochester, New York

In 2014, Robert Duffy announced that he would not run for reelection as lieutenant governor.[57] Incumbent Governor Cuomo was running for a second term. After Duffy's announcement, Cuomo named Hochul as his choice for lieutenant governor.[58] On May 22, 2014, the delegates to the state Democratic convention formally endorsed Hochul for lieutenant governor.[59]

In September, Cuomo and Hochul won their Democratic primary elections.[60] They were also the Working Families Party nominees.[61] (In New York, candidates for governor and lieutenant governor are nominated separately, but run as a ticket in the general election.)[62] In November, the Cuomo/Hochul ticket won the general election.[63] Hochul was sworn in as lieutenant governor on January 1, 2015.[64]

2018 election

In the 2018 Democratic primary for lieutenant governor of New York, Hochul faced Jumaane Williams, a member of the New York City Council. She defeated Williams, 53.3%–46.7%.[65][66]


Cuomo tasked Hochul with chairing the 10 regional economic development councils that are the centerpiece of the administration's economic development plan.[67] The councils' goal is to build upon the strengths of each region to develop individualized long-term strategic plans.

Cuomo appointed Hochul to chair the Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Abuse and Addiction. In this capacity, she convened eight outreach sessions across New York State to hear from experts and community members in search of answers to the heroin crisis and works to develop a comprehensive strategy for New York.[68]

Hochul spearheaded Cuomo's "Enough is Enough" campaign to combat sexual assault on college campuses beginning in 2015, hosting and attending more than 25 events.[69][70][71] In March 2016, Cuomo named her to the New York State Women's Suffrage 100th Anniversary Commemoration Commission.[72]

In 2018, Hochul supported legislation to provide driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants, which she had opposed as Erie County Clerk in 2007. While Hochul had said in 2007 that she would seek to have any such applicants arrested if the proposal was implemented, in 2018 she said circumstances had changed.[73][74]

On May 30, 2018, State Senate Democrats hoped to force a vote on an abortion rights bill known as the Reproductive Health Act. Hochul was prepared to cast a tie-breaking vote on a hostile amendment; with one Republican senator away from Albany on military duty, the Senate Republican Conference and the Senate Democratic conference each had 31 members in the chamber. But Senate Republicans "abruptly shut down business and pulled all the bills for the day" when Hochul entered the Senate chamber. She called the GOP’s actions "reprehensible" and "cowardly", adding, "The governor and I are offended by the actions taken here today in the Senate".[75]

Hochul presided over the Senate chamber on June 5, 2018, when Senate Republicans called for the override of Cuomo's veto of a bill relating to full-day kindergarten classes. The override passed by a large margin, and was the first veto override to occur during Cuomo's gubernatorial tenure.[76]

At a July 2018 rally with Planned Parenthood, Hochul called upon the Republican-led State Senate to reconvene in Albany to pass abortion rights legislation. She asserted that the potential confirmation of then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh made this necessary.[77][78]

Of her time as lieutenant governor and relationship with Cuomo, Hochul said: "I think it’s very clear that the governor and I have not been close, physically or otherwise in terms of much time".[79][better source needed] Hochul called Cuomo's behavior toward women "repulsive and unlawful"[80] and praised his decision to resign.[81]

Governor of New York (2021–present)

Hochul being sworn in as Governor in 2021
Hochul being sworn in as Governor in 2021

In a press briefing on August 10, 2021, Andrew Cuomo announced his resignation as governor, effective August 24.[82][83] Hochul was officially sworn in as governor at 12:00 AM Eastern Time (ET) on August 24 by New York Chief Judge Janet DiFiore in a private ceremony. A public ceremonial event was held later that morning at the State Capitol's Red Room.[84]

Hochul is the state's first female governor.[84] She is also the first governor from outside New York City and its immediate suburbs since 1932 (when Franklin Delano Roosevelt left office).[84] Hochul also became the first governor from north of Hyde Park since Nathan L. Miller in 1922, in addition to being the first governor from Western New York since Horace White in 1910.[85]

On August 12, Hochul confirmed that she plans to run for a full term as governor in 2022.[86] She was the first Democrat to announce a 2022 gubernatorial candidacy after Cuomo said he would resign.[87]

In August 2021, The Daily Beast and The Buffalo News reported on a potential conflict of interest between Hochul's role as governor and the high-level executive position held by her husband, William Hochul, at Delaware North, a Buffalo-based casino and hospitality company. Delaware North has stated that William Hochul will be prohibited from working on any matter that involves state business, oversight, or regulation. A spokesman for Kathy Hochul has said that she had a recusal policy as lieutenant governor and would maintain that policy as governor.[88][89]

In November 2021, Hochul offered her plans to redevelop Manhattan’s Pennsylvania Station and the surrounding neighborhood. In her plans, she called for reducing density in the area.[90][91]

Community activities

Hochul is a founder of Kathleen Mary House, a transitional home for women and children who are victims of domestic violence. She has served on the organization's board.[50][92] She also co-founded the Village Action Coalition, and, as of 2011, was a member of the Board of Trustees of Immaculata Academy in Hamburg.[50]

Personal life

Hochul is married to William J. Hochul Jr., a former United States attorney for the Western District of New York[93] and the Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary to Delaware North Companies, a hospitality and gambling company. They have two children.[50][93]

Electoral history

2018 Democratic primary results
Lieutenant Governor of New York
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Kathy Hochul (incumbent) 733,591 53.3%
Democratic Jumaane Williams 641,633 46.7%
Total votes 1,375,224 100%
2014 Democratic primary results

Lieutenant Governor of New York

Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Kathy Hochul 329,089 60.20
Democratic Timothy Wu 217,614 39.80
Total votes 546,703 100.00
2012 general election results

U.S. House of Representatives, NY-27

Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Chris Collins 137,250 43.24
Conservative Chris Collins 23,970 7.55
Democratic Kathy Hochul 140,008 44.11
Working Families Kathy Hochul 16,211 5.11
Total Votes 317,439 100.00
May 24, 2011 special election results
U.S. House of Representatives, NY-26[94][95]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Kathy Hochul 47,519 42.58
Working Families Kathy Hochul 5,194 4.65
Republican Jane Corwin 35,721 32.01
Conservative Jane Corwin 9,090 8.15
Independence Jane Corwin 2,376 2.13
Tea Party Jack Davis 10,029 8.99
Green Ian Murphy 1,177 1.05
Total votes 111,597 100.0
Turnout   25

See also



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External links

Civic offices
Preceded by County Clerk of Erie County
Succeeded by
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 26th congressional district

Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor of New York
2014, 2018
Most recent
Political offices
Preceded by Lieutenant Governor of New York
Succeeded by
Preceded by Governor of New York
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded byas Vice President Order of precedence of the United States
Within New York
Succeeded by
Mayor of city
in which event is held
Succeeded by
Preceded byas Governor of Virginia Order of precedence of the United States
Outside New York
Succeeded byas Governor of North Carolina
This page was last edited on 3 December 2021, at 20:35
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