UTICA, N.Y. (WUTR) – If Gov. Cuomo resigns or if he is impeached, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will become the acting governor, leaving a vacancy in her position. New York State Sen. Joseph Griffo is hoping to clarify how the open lieutenant governor position would be filled.
“There’s nothing in language in the constitution that says what the process will be,” said Sen. Griffo. “There is potential succession of power saying that the governor leaves, then the temporary president of the senate becomes like an acting lieutenant governor, but not necessarily holds the office of lieutenant governor.”
The last time New York dealt with this situation was in 2008 when Eliot Spitzer resigned and lieutenant governor David Paterson became governor. Paterson appointed a new lieutenant governor despite there being no official language in the constitution to say how this position should be filled.
Senator Griffo explained, “He was taken to court by the majority at the time in the legislature and the senate, and he won the court case. The court ruled in his favor that they allowed him to make that appointment.”
This ruling will likely take precedent should Kathy Hochul be put in a position where she needs to find a new Lieutenant Governor, but Senator Griffo is still hoping to clarify the process for the future saying we need to delineate language in the constitution.
“Essentially what I have recommended for our consideration is that we would allow the governor to make an appointment within thirty days, and then that would be subject to a vote of the entire legislature for confirmation under advice and consent,” he said.
He’d also like to allow candidates for governor and lieutenant governor to run together in both the general and primary elections. “We’ve seen a number of cases where you have an incompatible team,” Griffo said. “And that does not work later when you need them to work together for the benefit of the people of the state of New York.”
The senator says he’s open to other ideas, but he put together these proposals based on the current system and how he thinks it could be improved. He said, “I think these measures are common sense. They allow for more orderly and effective transitions and it gets the involvement and the input of both branches of government.”
Griffo said it’s not likely that this legislation will have any impact on the current situation involving Cuomo, but he’s hopeful that it will help inspire change.