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NEW YORK (WABC) — New York Governor Kathy Hocul is launching her first series of ads in the state’s gubernatorial race, as she seeks to be elected to the office for the first time.

They highlight her accomplishments since taking office last August when former Governor Andrew Cuomo resigned, but they do not mention legal charges that forced Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin to resign and leaving her without a running mate.

On Tuesday, she traveled from Albany to Nassau County and highlighted expansive, multi-million dollar investments in infrastructure, affordable housing, education and tax relief.

“I am so focused on answering one question, and that is what’s best for New Yorkers,” she said. “You focus on that and you’ll get the right answer every single time.”

Hochul made her campaign style announcement in Hempstead, just below the Third Congressional District currently served by the man who wants her job.

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Tom Suozzi held a virtual conference call with reporters, where the former Nassau County executive accused his Democratic opponent of furthering a culture of corruption in Albany.

He chided the billion dollar deal for a new football stadium in Buffalo and he claimed Hochul knew about the ethical issues that led to Benjamin’s arrest and resignation.

“New York state is in a lot of trouble,” Suozzi said. “We have the highest taxes in the United States of America. People are leaving in droves. We have a growing crime problem, and these problems need to be addressed.”

Suozzi said voters should decide on Benjamin’s replacement, and he said he hopes the Democratic candidates will face off in debates before the primary in June.

Not to be discounted is what impact, if any, Como have on the June 28 primary. Suozzi said he’d gladly welcome Cuomo supporters.

In a Daily News op-ed piece on Monday, Cuomo warned democrats to move quickly but smartly, saying, “The window of opportunity to restore faith in New York is closing. COVID has changed the world in many ways…State government must act decisively and tackle the difficult problems.”

Benjamin was arrested last week in a federal corruption investigation, accused in an indictment of participating in a scheme to obtain campaign contributions from a real estate developer in exchange for Benjamin’s agreement to use his influence as a state senator to get a $50,000 grant of state funds for a nonprofit organization the developer controlled.

Benjamin pleaded not guilty to charges including bribery, fraud, conspiracy and falsification of records. He was released on bail, barred from returning to the state capitol in Albany and his travel restricted.

Hochul in September plucked Benjamin, then a state lawmaker, to serve as second-in-command when she became governor. Cuomo resigned amid allegations he sexually harassed 11 women, which he denied.

Two months after Benjamin became lieutenant governor, a real estate developer who steered campaign contributions toward Benjamin’s failed bid for New York City comptroller was indicted. Federal authorities accused Gerald Migdol of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft in illegally giving donations to Benjamin’s campaign.

The indictment said Benjamin, formerly a state senator from Harlem, and others acting at his direction or on his behalf engaged in a series of lies and deceptions to cover up the scheme that stretched from 2019 to 2021.

They falsified campaign donor forms, misled municipal regulators and provided false information in vetting forms Benjamin submitted while he was being considered to be appointed as lieutenant governor, the indictment said.

Even with his resignation, he will still likely appear on the ballot for the 2022 gubernatorial Democratic primary even if Hochul picks a new lieutenant governor, according to state elections law.

Benjamin was the state’s second Black lieutenant governor. During his state Legislature career, he emphasized criminal justice reform and affordable housing. His district included most of central Harlem, where he was born and raised by Caribbean immigrant parents.

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The scandal is the latest in a long history of lawmakers and other Albany leaders who’ve been engulfed in allegations of wrongdoing.

Cuomo’s resignation as governor came not only amid allegations of sexual harassment but that his administration misrepresented the number of New Yorkers who died in nursing homes from COVID-19.

In 2008, then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer resigned amid a prostitution investigation.

Former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, one of the most powerful figures in state government, resigned in 2015 after he was arrested on federal corruption charges.

Former Republican state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, who for a time shared power with Silver, was convicted of extortion, wire fraud and bribery.

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Source: This post first appeared on abc7NY

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