NY GOP Chair, Suozzi Blast Hochul for Attempting to Get Benjamin Off Primary Ballot

Governor Kathy Hochul and former Lt. Governor Brian Benjamin hold a roundtable meeting in Brooklyn on gun violence. Photo from Governor’s Flickr account.

Both U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Long Island, Queens), who is running in the Democratic Primary for governor and New York State Republican Chair Nick Langworthy Tuesday blasted Gov. Kathy Hochul for approaching Democrat legislative leaders about changing a law that would allow former Lt. Governor Brian Benjamin to get off the ballot for the upcoming June primary.

Currently, a candidate for office after accepting a nomination cannot be removed from the ballot unless there are narrow circumstances, such as leaving the state or dying. Benjamin, who resigned from the lieutenant governor’s office following his indictment on five counts of felony corruption charges and suspended his campaign, remains on the ballot.

Suozzi and Langworthy’s comments came after Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins confirmed Hochul recently called her called asking for a change in the law. Stewart-Cousins told reporters Tuesday she was hesitant to do so now with early voting beginning on June 18 – less than two months away.

“I really, really, really don’t like to change rules in the middle of a process,” Stewart-Cousins said. “It’s certainly in the middle of an election. She did speak to me last night and we will continue the conversation. We’ll talk about it.”

Still, Stewart-Cousins did not completely rule out consideration of a bill, saying she put it on the table for conversation with the Senate Democratic Conference.

Meanwhile, Spectrum News reported that Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (D-Westchester) has indicated she will introduce a bill that would allow for the removal of candidates facing criminal charges or a terminal illness.

Suozzi questioned why the Senate and Assembly would make another secret back room deal with Hochul to replace her indicted former Lt. Governor.

“The members of the Senate and Assembly will already pay a political price for her Buffalo Bills deal, her refusal to address crime and the LG saga. How long are they willing to carry Kathy Hochul’s water? She made these messes, she needs to clean them up herself,” said Suozzi.

Langworthy said, “If Kathy Hochul’s co-conspirators in the legislature help her avoid accountability for picking a crook as lieutenant governor they will be directly responsible for aiding and abetting the cesspool of Albany corruption, and we will make sure every voter knows it.” 

Also on the ballot for Lt. Governor in the Democratic Primary are activist Ana Maria Archila, the preferred running mate of New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, and former New York City Councilwoman Diana Reyna, who is running with Suozzi.