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Kathy Hochul poised to join list of 'female firsts' in New York history

With Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s announcement Tuesday, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Buffalo Democrat, will become the state’s first female governor in 14 days. The announcement puts her in rarefied political air. Of the nation’s five largest states by population, just one, Texas, has had a female chief executive – and that was 30 years ago.

Here’s a look at some of her company among "female firsts" in New York State government.

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton’s name is followed by any number of "firsts" in U.S. history books. For New Yorkers, in 2000, she became the state’s first female senator.

She was easily reelected to a second term in 2006, and served until 2008, when she resigned to run the first of two unsuccessful presidential campaigns.

Letitia James

In 2019, James became the first woman elected as New York’s top law enforcement official, though her immediate predecessor, Barbara Underwood, served in an acting capacity for several months following the resignation of Eric Schneiderman. James herself is frequently mentioned as harboring ambitions for the state’s top office in the future.

Geraldine Ferraro

In another first that reached the national stage, Geraldine Ferraro, a Democratic congresswoman from Queens, served in 1984 as the first woman to be nominated by a major party on a presidential ticket, when she was picked by Walter Mondale as his vice presidential running mate.

That move was called "bold and historic," in a statement by Vice President Kamala Harris upon the death of Walter Mondale.

Judith S. Kaye

In New York, a judicial milestone occurred when Judith S. Kaye served as the chief justice of the New York Court of Appeals, making her the state’s top jurist. She was nominated for the role in 1993 by then-Gov. Mario Cuomo, and served in the role until she reached the state’s mandatory retirement age for judges in 2008. During her time on the bench, Kaye championed "problem-solver" courts, to address cases with specific root causes, including domestic violence.

Mary Anne Krupsak

While Hochul will become the state’s first female governor, she does not hold that distinction in her present role as lieutenant governor. That distinction goes to Krupsak, a Democratic state senator from Schenectady who, in 1975, challenged then-novice politician Mario Cuomo for the role, and won. In the process, Krupsak became the first woman to win election to a statewide office in New York, and served one term as lieutenant governor under Democrat Hugh Carey. Krupsak eventually waged an unsuccessful challenge against her boss for the Democratic nomination after serving one term as his lieutenant.


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