What to Know
- 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.
- Benjamin, 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.
- In an interview last week, Hochul, who hails from the Buffalo area, said she had narrowed her search to focus on candidates from New York City.
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.
Benjamin, 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.
News 4 New York reached out to Benjamin's spokesperson for comment. 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.
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Hochul is expected to announce her decision publicly 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 governor following the resignations of their predecessors.
He was born in Harlem Hospital to a Caribbean-born mother and raised in the neighborhood. He graduated from high school in New York City, and went on to earn a bachelor's degree in public policy from Brown University and a master's of business administration from Harvard Business School. He later worked as a developer of affordable housing following three years of working in investment banking at Morgan Stanley.
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 his first term, he served as ranking member of the Senate Committee on Civil Service and Pensions. He currently serves as the chair of the Budget and Revenue committee, and as Senior Assistant Majority Leader. Additionally, he is a member of the Codes, Finance, Health, and Rules committees, as well as the Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee and the Joint Senate Task Force on Opioids, Addiction & Overdose Prevention.
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 has served as Chair of Community Board 10 and the Land Use Committee in an effort to keep Harlem rent affordable. He launched a mentoring program in 2013 at Harlem’s Wadleigh High School and has served as an alumni-elected trustee of Brown University. Benjamin also served as a 2012 delegate for former President Barack Obama and as a member of Obama’s National Finance Committee.
Benjamin unsuccessfully ran for New York City comptroller this year. He serves as senior assistant majority leader in the Senate and chair of the budget and revenue committee.
In an interview on CBS's “Face The Nation” last week, Hochul, who hails from the Buffalo area and assumed the position of governor Tuesday following Andrew Cuomo's resignation went into effect, said she had narrowed her search to focus on candidates from New York City.
“Even though I’ve spent thousands of hours in New York City and I’m well familiar with the challenges, I want someone who lives there,” she said. “I want someone who understands the challenges firsthand.”
Although Hochul's pick has yet to be officially announced, fellow democratic state Sen. Jamaal T. Bailey congratulated Benjamins via a tweet that read in part: "Huge congrats to my brother @NYSenBenjamin and his wonderful family on this well-deserved appointment as our new Lieutenant Governor! #HarlemWorld"
Meanwhile, NYGOP Chairman Nick Langworthy called Benjamin a "radical leftist."
“New Yorkers are being shot, stabbed, raped, robbed and attacked in huge crime surges across the state of New York and Kathy Hochul just doubled down on Democrats’ dangerous agenda by appointing a “Defund the Police” radical leftist to serve as her second in command," Langworthy's statement reads. "This reckless pick proves that she represents a continuation of the same failed policies and underscores the urgency of electing a Republican governor in 2022 who will bring common sense and balance to New York.”
Benjamin is listed as director at Canada-based Nextpoint Acquisition, according to his 2020 financial disclosure statements filed with the state in May. His annual salary is up to $50,000, while he has stock with a market value between $75,000 to $100,000.
He had a $120,000 annual salary as a state senator as of 2020. Hochul is set to receive the nation’s highest gubernatorial salary, at $225,000.