Lieutenant Governor who?
A new 300-page pandemic memoir by Gov. Andrew Cuomo conspicuously omits any mention of his lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul.
Cuomo highlights the work of numerous appointees and subordinates in his administration who helped him respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The governor even devotes a whole passage in “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic’’ to how he still wears an old pair of shoes worn by his late father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo.
But there is no mention of Hochul, his running mate who is next in line to replace him in an emergency.
State politics-watchers say the move is further proof that Cuomo is not one to share the spotlight with anyone of potential public import, even technically his right-hand woman, a Buffalo-area ex-congresswoman who has been largely relegated to meet-and-greet public events.
“It’s not a surprise the governor didn’t mention Hochul in the book — but he should’ve,’’ a veteran Democratic insider told The Post.
Another party source said, “Nobody in CuomoLand likes anybody who is remotely trying to steal the limelight … Everybody in that book mentioned reports to Cuomo. It’s about the governor. Period.”
A third Dem source called Hochul’s omission ‘’very revealing” — and far from a mistake.
“You know Andrew Cuomo had that book vetted politically and strategically,’’ the source said.
In keeping with what has become an open secret in Albany about Hochul’s lack of power, she has been missing from her Democratic boss’s daily pandemic press conferences — except when he holds events on her turf in the Buffalo region.
Cuomo also did not assign Hochul to oversee any substantial task in his administration’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak, appointing her only to head the COVID-19 advisory “control room” for western New York.
Former Republican New York Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey said the under-use of Hochul is a pity.
“The lieutenant governor can help the governor get things done,” said McCaughey, who served with Gov. George Pataki.
McCaughey headed Pataki’s task force on Medicaid reform and produced a report on the benefits of early childhood education, among other things.
“It’s a disservice and a shame that Lt. Gov Hochul’s energy and talents are being wasted and not used to benefit the public,” McCaughey said.
“I’d like to appoint her to a petty tyrant commission. There should be term limits on tyrants,” she quipped, jokingly referring to Cuomo.
McCaughey fell out of favor with Pataki after stealing some of his thunder — including standing up behind him during his entire State of the State address one year — and clashing with him and his team during his first four-year term starting in 1995.
Senior Cuomo adviser Rich Azzopardi told The Post in a statement that it “is silly” to make anything out of the fact that Hocul was left out of the governor’s book.
“The lieutenant governor has been our eyes and ears in western New York throughout this public-health crisis and has been an invaluable partner in helping to communicate both the severity of this pandemic and how to combat it,” he wrote in an e-mail.
“The book is an inside account that chiefly centered on the team located in Albany. Not even apples and oranges: apples and bicycles,” the top aide said, referring to any attempt to compare the Albany group’s work with Hochul’s in her region.
As for Hochul, her camp downplayed her absence in Gov. Cuomo’s book.
“Lt. Governor Hochul is proud of the efforts she and the Governor accomplish together every single day for all New Yorkers,’’ Hochul’s chief of staff, Jeff Lewis, said in a statement to The Post.
“Despite any suggestion otherwise, she will continue to be a partner to the Governor throughout the state’s ongoing and unprecedented pandemic response and recovery. Let’s stay focused and smart. Wear a mask.
“As the Governor announced in April, Lt. Governor Hochul leads WNY’s Control Room, comprised of County officials and public health leaders, and there is no dispute she has been key in delivering the Administration’s message in her over 450+ interviews and media appearances across the state. That would be impossible without our teams being completely in-sync. We don’t take the responsibility of public service lightly,” Lewis added.
Aides mentioned in Cuomo’s book include secretary and top aide Melissa DeRosa. She gets a nod on the first page.
Then there is Budget Director Robert Mujica; now-SUNY Chancellor and former aide Jim Malatras; communications director Peter Ajemian; Azzopardi; press secretary Caitlin Girouard, who was outed as infected with COVID-19, and financial services official Gareth Rhodes.
New York’s governors and lieutenant governors run on one line as a ticket in the general election, although candidates for the lower job must win a separate party primary if there is a challenge.
In 2008, David Paterson became the first lieutenant governor in the state since 1973 to become governor because of his boss’s resignation. At the time, Gov. Eliot Spitzer, a k a “Client No. 9,’’ had resigned over a prostitution scandal.
Gov. Nelson Rockefeller resigned in 1973 to focus on a presidential bid, paving the way for Lt. Gov. Malcolm Wilson to take the reins.