Cuomo’s office told Hochul early this year that they wanted her to leave the ticket so the governor could pick someone with a deeper political pull with minority communities ahead of what he expected to be a difficult campaign, people familiar with the conversations said. The governor’s office was looking at several African American female candidates, according to two people familiar with the matter, who like other people in this article spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations.
After Hochul said she would only consider leaving for an ambassadorship or top post in the Biden administration, top Cuomo adviser Melissa DeRosa asked the Biden team if such an appointment would be possible, people familiar with the conversations said. DeRosa spoke to Steve Ricchetti, a top Biden adviser, two of these people said.
Biden officials conveyed that an ambassadorship was not possible but discussed Hochul as a potential candidate for other jobs, including as an official in a Cabinet agency, people familiar with the conversations said. Discussions went on for some time, advisers said.
Hochul was considering those possibilities earlier this year, but the conversations with the White House tapered off this spring amid growing allegations about Cuomo’s conduct and mounting scrutiny of his administration’s reporting of nursing home deaths related to covid-19, the people said.
A spokeswoman for Hochul did not respond to requests for comment. The White House declined to comment. A spokesperson for Cuomo declined to comment.
The New York Post first reported that Cuomo and his team had planned to remove Hochul from the ticket ahead of a fourth-term bid.
In a news conference earlier this week, Hochul acknowledged that Cuomo had tried to sideline her.
“It’s an open secret that we are not close,” she said, when asked about reports Cuomo tried to boot her from the ticket, saying he had wanted to remove her at the end of 2014 and 2018. “And I’m still standing.”
Hochul has made her break from Cuomo clear since taking over as governor late this summer, removing a number of his loyalists from the administration.
While he was governor, Cuomo often went months without seeing or talking to his lieutenant governor, according to current and former state officials. She often traveled the state on her own, meeting with business officials and attending ribbon cuttings.
The move to replace her last year came as the then-governor and his allies huddled to plot a fourth-term strategy and were growing anxious that Cuomo would face a serious challenge, people close to the conversation said. Some Cuomo advisers said they wanted the governor to pick someone he was personally closer with who would play a larger role in the administration.
Hochul’s ascension to the governor’s mansion came after an investigation commissioned by New York Attorney General Letitia James found Cuomo harassed 11 women. He resigned after members of the state assembly moved to begin impeachment proceedings, but Cuomo has vigorously disputed the report — even after leaving office — and allies say he could try to re-engineer a political career.
Hochul has recently consolidated local and state Democratic Party officials in her bid for reelection next year but is likely to face a crowded Democratic primary field, which could include New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York City public advocate Jumaane Williams.