NEW YORK – As Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s fall from grace continued Thursday, a majority of polled New Yorkers said he should resign — or be impeached — after a probe determined the governor had sexually harassed current and former employees.
Sixty percent of people said Cuomo should step down, a new News 4, NewsNation, Emerson College poll released Thursday found. It’s a massive spike from March, when allegations against Cuomo arose; at the time, only 43 percent of people favored his resignation.
If Cuomo doesn’t resign, 58 percent of those polled said he should be impeached — something that hasn’t happened to the state’s governor in nearly 108 years.
A majority of state Assembly members have also said they support beginning impeachment proceedings against Cuomo if he doesn’t resign over the investigative findings that he sexually harassed at least 11 women.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has also called for Cuomo’s resignation.
“Just get the h–l out of the way, he said Thursday. “I mean, in the end, maybe he could close off his career with one act of dignity and decency and just step aside. But don’t bet on that.”
If Cuomo does leave, he’d be replaced by Kathy Hochul, the 62-year-old lieutenant governor. More than 15 percent of polled New Yorkers have never even heard of her and only 28 percent are confident in her abilities as a potential governor.
Spencer Kimball, director of Emerson College Polling, said it’s common that lieutenant governors often live in the shadow of state governors.
“And I think she kind of has to make a case for herself of why she would be able to handle this position, particularly early on if she was to become governor, because obviously there will be an election in 2022 for the seat,” said Kimball.
Erie County Democratic Chairman Jeremy Zellner has been making the case for Hochul.
“Kathy Hochul has really, really pushed hard and headed up numerous commissions and task forces, from women’s rights to the opioid crisis…she has worked really hard and gone beyond the ceremonial of the job, so that’s why I have the confidence in her that she can step in and bring stability to the governor’s role,” Zellner said. “She’s a regular New Yorker. She’s a mom. She’s somebody who’s worked hard in every level of government to do good for our community.”
A quarter of New Yorkers would vote Cuomo back into office in the upcoming 2022 election despite the sexual harassment scandal. In March, a third of voters said they would vote for a fourth term.
Support for Cuomo, once hailed for his leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic, has plummeted since New York Attorney General Letitia James announced the results of her probe.
President Joe Biden and other onetime Democratic allies called for Cuomo to step down.
“I think he should resign,” Biden told reporters Tuesday, echoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and New York’s U.S. Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, all Democrats.
The leader of the state Assembly, which has the power to bring impeachment charges, said it was clear Cuomo could no longer remain in office. Speaker Carl Heastie, a Democrat, said he would move to complete an impeachment inquiry “as quickly as possible.”
Cuomo remained defiant, saying in a taped response to the findings that “the facts are much different than what has been portrayed” and that he “never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances.”
The News 4, NewsNation, Emerson College poll’s sample size was 1,182 with a margin of error of +/- 2.8%.