Word Has It Gov. Hochul To Tap Harlem Senator Brian Benjamin As Lieutenant Governor

Gov. Kathy Hochul is expected to tap state senator Brian A. Benjamin as her lieutenant governor, three sources familiar with the matter tell News 4.

Crain’s writes that Benjamin, earned his political chops by fundraising for President Barack Obama during his 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns. Benjamin even appeared as a delegate for Obama at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

After winning his Senate seat in 2017 during a special election, Benjamin made a name for himself through two avenues: criminal justice reform and fiscal policy. He advocated for the closing of Rikers Island jail, introducing bills to close the prison and divert investments of the state’s public pension system from private, for-profit prisons.

Benjamin introduced a bill last year that authorized New York City to create a rainy day fund and during his campaign for comptroller he advocated for the city’s pension system to follow opportunities to invest in green energy technology.

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Benjamin has been tied to the real estate industry. After he withdrew his support of a tenant protection bill he initially co-sponsored in December 2019, it was revealed that he planned on holding a fundraiser with major real estate firms who opposed the legislation.

He stepped down from his role on the board of the subprime mortgage lender Newpoint Acquisition after it was reported that he pulled in a $50,000 salary and held $250,000 in stock. Various progressive groups protested Benjamin’s role with the company while he simultaneously served in the Senate.

A Democrat who also ran for state comptroller in this year’s elections, has served as the New York State Senator for District 30, which is made up of Harlem, East Harlem (El Barrio), the Upper West Side, Washington Heights, Hamilton Heights and Morningside Heights.

Should he accept the position, Benjamin, 44, would become the state’s second Black lieutenant governor. David Paterson, the state’s first Black lieutenant governor, became its first Black governor when Eliot Spitzer resigned after revelations that he had patronized a sex worker.

Hochul is expected to announce her decision public on Thursday. She is scheduled to make a “special announcement” with Benjamin at 1 p.m. Thursday in Harlem.

The role of lieutenant governor in New York has long been largely ceremonial, with the officeholders traveling to ribbon-cutting ceremonies and town halls across the state. But the state’s two most recent lieutenant governors have become governors following the resignations of their predecessors.

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