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New York Governor Appoints Congressman Antonio Delgado As New Lt. Governor And Running Mate

The move comes after former Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin was forced to resign after being arrested.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the appointment of U.S. Rep Antonio Delgado as the new lieutenant governor on Tuesday (May 3), a day after the state legislature made changes to election law that allowed the removal of his predecessor, Brian Benjamin from the ballot as Hochul vies for re-election in November.

Delgado, 45, who is Afro-Latino, and the first person of color to represent upstate New York in Congress, was first elected to office in 2018. He was chosen again without any serious opposition from a Republican candidate in the 19th Congressional District, which includes New York’s Catskills and Hudson Valley. In making her announcement, Hochul called Delgado a “rising star,” who would fill the role needed for “a government that is fully staffed, fully functioning and fully committed to serving New Yorkers.”

“To do that I need someone by my side who I can rely on for guidance, wisdom ... advice. ... Most important they must be someone who New Yorkers trust," Hochul said, according to the Albany Times-Union. The appointment makes him the first Latino to hold statewide office in New York state.

Seen as a moderate, Delgado sat on the House Committees on Agriculture, Small Business and Transportation and Infrastructure and was the Agriculture & Food Security Domestic Policy Chair for the Congressional Black Caucus. He is a Rhodes Scholar who earned a law degree from Harvard and also worked as an attorney in private practice.

"New Yorkers deserve a Lieutenant Governor who's working day and night to make lives better for working people and their families," Delgado said, according to CBS New York. “Upstate, downstate, doesn't matter. We all want the same things, security, family and opportunity. The key is to listen to New Yorkers from all walks of life and then be their voice to get the job done."  

The development comes just weeks after Benjamin was arrested on corruption charges in which he is accused of being part of a plot to move funds to a real estate investor in Harlem to illegally obtain campaign contributions for his failed 2021 run for New York City comptroller. He was charged with bribery and honest services, wire fraud conspiracy, and two counts of falsification of records. He resigned on April 12.

At the time, Hochul said she supported him and doubled down, calling him her “running mate” for the election in November. Then on Monday, she signed legislation that enables candidates who are convicted of or who are charged with crimes to be removed from the ballot, which would essentially eliminate Benjamin. In New York state, the governor and lieutenant governor are elected on separate ballots, although candidates normally campaign together as though they are on one ticket.

RELATED: New York Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin Arrested On Corruption Charges Related To Campaign Contributions

RELATED: New York Governor Signs Bill To Ban Symbols Of Hate On Public Property

In a statement sent to BET.com, Benjamin maintained his innocence, but acknowledged his exit from candidacy without mentioning the legislation.

“The truth is that I have been wrongly charged with an offense that I did not commit,” Benjamin is seen saying on video. “The charges are primarily based on my support for a non-profit that provided supplies and resources to public school children in Harlem. I fully expect to be exonerated of these false charges and look forward to serving my community again when that happens.

“However, until I have the opportunity to clear my name I would not be able to serve,” he added, “therefore making it unfair to the voters of our great state for me to remain on the ballot.”

Hochul and Delgado are facing challenges from fellow Democrats including Rep. Thomas Suozzi  and New York City comptroller Jumaane Williams among others. They will meet in the Democratic primary on June 28 and the winner will face the GOP nominee in the November election.

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