Kathy Hochul is to become the first female governor of New York, after Andrew Cuomo resigned over sexual harassment allegations – which he denies.
Ms Hochul will take over as the top politician in the fourth most populous US state in just two weeks’ time.
Described by her predecessor as “smart and competent”, the 62-year-old is a centrist Democrat from the Buffalo area of New York state.
She joined the governor’s team in 2014, and has held the largely ceremonial role of lieutenant governor.
Ms Hochul is from a family of steelworkers, and her grandparents fled poverty in Ireland before making New York their home.
One of six children, she gained an undergraduate degree from Syracuse University, and a law degree from Catholic University of America. From there, she started off working as an aide on Capitol Hill and worked in local positions before being elected to Congress.
Ms Hochul has been an advocate for women facing domestic and sexual violence throughout her career. She led Mr Cuomo’s “Enough is Enough” campaign to fight sexual assault on college campuses.
In 2006 she also established the Kathleen Mary House, a transitional home for victims of domestic violence, with her mother and aunt.
In 2008, the governor-to-be caused controversy when serving as the Eerie county clerk, after she opposed then-governor Eliot Spitzer’s plan to give drivers’ licences to undocumented immigrants. She walked back on the comments 10 years later, stating, “it is a whole different era out there”.
Ms Hochul had joined the chorus of politicians denouncing Andrew Cuomo last week, and said his resignation on Tuesday was the “right thing to do”.
The investigation into Mr Cuomo “documented repulsive & unlawful behaviour by the Governor towards multiple women”, she tweeted.
An independent investigation by the New York Attorney General’s office found that Mr Cuomo had sexually harassed 11 women, including state employees.
Women alleged that he made sexual comments, inappropriately touched or groped them, and kissed them without consent.
Mr Cuomo has denied sexual harassment, but said he wanted to “deeply, deeply” apologise to any women who may have been offended by his actions.
It’s unclear whether Ms Hochul will seek a full term in the 2022 election.
“As someone who has served at all levels of government and is next in the line of succession, I am prepared to lead as New York State’s 57th Governor,” she said in a statement.