State Senator Brian Benjamin to serve as next lieutenant governor, sources

The Hochul Administration

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10/AP) — A source tells NEWS10 that state Sen. Brian Benjamin will be the new Lieutenant Governor of New York.

Someone familiar with the administration’s internal discussions spoke with The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because Hochul had yet to announce her decision publicly. She is expected to do so this week.

If he accepts the job, the 44-year-old Benjamin would become the state’s second Black lieutenant governor. The Democrat, whose district includes most of central Harlem, has focused his legislative career on criminal justice reform and affordable housing.

Although the Hochul Administration has made no formal announcement, social media posts are pointing to the downstate senator as Hochul’s pick. Among those posters is fellow Sen. Jamaal Bailey:

In recent weeks, Bailey and Benjamin both emerged as top contenders to replace Gov. Kathy Hochul as the state’s second-highest executive. The governor had long maintained her pick would be from New York City; Benjamin represents parts of Harlem in Manhattan.

According to Nexstar contributor Henry Rosoff, Democratic Party leaders in the Bronx also confirmed the news.

The New York Times also posted that Benjamin was chosen by Hochul Wednesday morning, saying “someone familiar with the decision” confirmed the news.

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 two recent lieutenant governors have become governor following the resignations of their predecessors.

Benjamin is the son of Caribbean immigrants. He was born in Harlem Hospital and raised in the neighborhood, later earning a bachelor’s degree in public policy from Brown University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. He later worked as a developer of affordable housing. He is now senior assistant majority leader in the Senate and chair of the budget and revenue committee.

Benjamin initially ran on promises to close Rikers Island, New York City’s giant and troubled jail complex, and sponsored a bill to do so. He also introduced legislation to divest New York’s public pension fund from private prisons. State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli later ended the fund’s holdings in those companies.

In the national uproar after the killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minnesota in 2020, Benjamin helped push through a law to criminalize the use of police chokeholds that result in injury or death.

Benjamin has also tweeted support for defunding the police.

This year, Benjamin sponsored a bill making it harder to incarcerate people for minor parole violations. The legislation passed the Senate and Assembly but hasn’t been delivered to the governor, according to the Senate’s website.

Benjamin unsuccessfully ran for New York City comptroller this year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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