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Hochul chooses Congressman Antonio Delgado to be the state's next lieutenant governor

Gov. Kathy Hochul introduces Rep. Antonio Delgado as the state's next lieutenant governor
Mike Groll
Office of the governor
Gov. Kathy Hochul introduces Rep. Antonio Delgado as the state's next lieutenant governor

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has chosen Hudson Valley Congressman Antonio Delgado to be her lieutenant governor, after former Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin resigned in disgrace last month.

“Today, I’m announcing my nominee, my selection for the new lieutenant governor of the state of New York, Congressman Antonio Delgado,” Hochul said, as Delgado’s extended family and the governors’ staff applauded.

The governor’s choice of a new second-in-command comes three weeks after former lieutenant governor Brian Benjamin was indicted on federal corruption charges and resigned from office.

It comes less than a day after the state legislature, at Hochul’s request, approved a measure to allow a candidate who is facing criminal charges or a conviction to withdraw their name from a ballot.

That allowed the state’s Democratic Party to nominate Delgado to fill the vacancy, and become Hochul’s running mate in the June 28 primary.

“He will be on the ballot,” Hochul said, but that Delgado will need a bit of time to wrap up his congressional work before he officially takes the oath of office for lieutenant governor.

The governor predicted that New Yorkers will be “proud” of Delgado as they get to know him better, calling him a “rising star” in the national Democratic Party.

Delgado, who is of African American and Cape Verdean descent, grew up in Schenectady. He left to attend Oxford on a Rhodes scholarship, graduated from Harvard Law School, and lived in New York City for a time with his wife and twin sons, before running successfully for his seat in Congress in 2018.

“It’s just an honor to be able to stand here with you and do this work together,” Delgado told Hochul. “I’m excited to partner with you and build a better future for New York.”

Delgado and Hochul deny that the Democratic congressman, representing what is currently a competitive district, might face a tough reelection race this year. He was facing a challenge from Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, who was the Republican candidate for governor in 2018.

Delgado says he considers the post of lieutenant governor a promotion and a chance to interact with more New Yorkers, especially after two years of the COVID-19 pandemic and related lockdowns and isolation.

“We need to reconnect,” Delgado said. “We need to heal together.”

Critics, including Hochul’s political opponents, have condemned the special legislation allowing Hochul to replace Benjamin on the ballot, saying the governor is willing to subvert democracy by changing the ballot access rules in the middle of the election cycle to save her political future.

Hochul says her critics are wrong.

“I say it’s subversion of democracy to allow the circumstance where voters are being asked to select someone who’s actually said they are not running for office,” Hochul said. “If you talk to anyone outside of this universe… no one would think that makes sense.”

Benjamin admitted that he failed to tell state police during a vetting process last summer that he had received a subpoena in connection with an investigation by the US Attorney for New York’s Southern district, a probe that later led to the corruption charges.

Hochul says this time around, her staff is more experienced and has completed a more thorough background check of Delgado.

In a statement, Republican Party Chair Nick Langworthy called Delgado a “radical leftist who wants to dismantle our criminal justice system and make New York a socialist state.” Langworthy said the Republican candidates for governor and lieutenant governor offer a better choice.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.