History-making campaign as two women run for Governor of New York

History-making campaign as two women run for Governor of New York in 2022

Governor

Next year’s election for Governor of New York will see two women running against each other for the first time in the state’s history. 

Governor Kathy Hochul and state Attorney General Letitia James are leading the race to become the state’s 58th elected Governor. 

In August, Hochul made history after becoming the first female governor of New York state in a role that had been held by men for the last 240 years.

Following Andrew Cuomo’s resignation in August amid allegations he sexually harassed women, Hochul, 62, was sworn in at a private ceremonial event, where she remarked she hoped for “… people to believe in our government again.”

“It’s important to me that people have faith – our strength comes from the faith and the confidence of the people who put us into these offices and I take that very seriously.”

As the first woman and first Black person as New York’s attorney general, James, 63, is widely known for repeatedly challenging former President Donald Trump’s administration and oversaw an investigation that led to criminal charges against his company and its chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg.

As a New York City public advocate in 2018, James replaced Attorney General Eric Schneiderman after he resigned after allegations he physically abused women.

“I am proud to announce my candidacy for governor of New York so we can bring transformational change that uplifts all New Yorkers,” she said in a statement last Friday.

Earlier this year, James, who was born in Brooklyn, led a team of investigators into allegations of sexual harassment levelled against the former New York Governor, which revealed Cuomo had a long history of misconduct against women both inside and outside of state government.

The report issued by her office found the eleven women who accused Cuomo of sexual harassment were credible. Despite his denials, Cuomo resigned, saying he wanted to avoid putting the state through turmoil.

Last Friday, the Harvard graduate officially jumped into the Governors race, challenging her fellow Democrat, Hochul. 

“I’ve sued the Trump administration 76 times. But who’s counting?” James said in her campaign video, released on Friday. 

James’ announcement came twenty-four hours after a criminal complaint was filed against Cuomo, accusing the former governor of committing a misdemeanour sex crime against a woman in late 2020.

In a fundraising event after announcing her campaign, James expressed how when she was a young Black girl in Brooklyn, people would discourage her from pursuing her goals and fulfilling her ambitions.

“Then I made history by becoming the first Black woman to be elected to a statewide office in New York,” she remarked. “– but the truth is, that distinction is nothing more than a historical footnote if you don’t do any good with the office.”

Only 45 women have served as governors in the U.S., with just nine currently in office. If James wins next year’s race, she will become the first black female governor in the country’s history. 

At a breakfast meeting in Brooklyn with her Democratic colleagues, Hochul, a former lieutenant governor under Cuomo, said she felt “the weight of history” on her shoulders to demonstrate that a woman could govern New York “with strength, with heart and passion.”

“When I’m done with my terms, no one will ever question the ability of a woman to hold the highest office in this state or in this land,” Hochul said.

Since taking her new office on the second floor of the state Capitol as Governor in August, she has promised transparency and ethics reforms.

Last week, in an interview with the USA TODAY Network New York, Hochul said the role has been “incredibly humbling” so far.

She added that when she meets young girls, she always gives them one piece of advice: “You can be a governor, too. Because this is a woman governor.’ They don’t know what a governor is, but that hits me. Because my presence here is sending a message that there’s nothing a little girl can’t do.”

According to Kelly Dittmar, director of research at the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, no major party in New York has ever endorsed a female for governor.

“One of my fun games to play is like, ‘Here’s how many women have ever served, here’s how many men serve today,’” Dittmar told AP. “Governor is just that continued spot where women just are persistently underrepresented. It’s just made even more so when you look at women who are not white.”

James and Hochul are not the only Democrats eyeing next year’s race. 

The Democrats in the race also include New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, State Senator Alessandra Biaggi and Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano.

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