GEDDES — Gov. Kathy Hochul is slated to pick Manhattan Democrat Sen. Brian Benjamin as her lieutenant governor, multiple news outlets reported Wednesday.
Hochul did not publicly announce or confirm her selection Wednesday. The announcement was reported by unnamed sources, first by Spectrum News’s NY1.
Heastie said shortly after 11 a.m. that he had not heard that through official channels.
“That hasn’t been confirmed to me,” he said. “I think Brian is a wonderful guy.”
The speaker, a Democrat, also said Gov. Hochul had not told him who she was picking to be her lieutenant governor when he met with her on Tuesday.
Heastie said Wednesday he is “absolutely not” exploring a 2022 gubernatorial run in New York.
Heastie, in his sixth visit to the fair, chuckled at the question before saying twice: “absolutely not.”
The speaker also spoke to several issues facing the state’s new governor, who took office on Tuesday.
Heastie said it’s too soon to say whether the Legislature will need to return to Albany to grant Hochul emergency powers so she can impose mask rules in local school districts. He said he does support wearing masks.
“I’m a person who had COVID,” he said, “so I take it very, very seriously.”
The speaker said he believes Hochul’s pledge to clean up Albany, one of her first priorities that she outlined on Tuesday.
“I think all of us in government want to show the people of the state of New York that government is operating in an honest and transparent way,” he said. “We look forward to partnering with her.”
Heastie referred most questions about the ongoing Assembly investigation into former Gov. Andrew Cuomo to the chamber’s Judiciary Committee.
That’s the committee that started an impeachment inquiry into Cuomo that covers a range of issues: workplace harassment, using state resources to write a memoir and arranging special COVID-19 testing access to members of his family during the early months of the pandemic.
That committee hired an outside law firm to lead the investigation. Cuomo was never interviewed in that investigation.
“I don’t oversee the day-to-day operations,” of the committee, he said. “I’ve left it to the committee and to the law firm to move forward.”