By MARINA VILLENEUVE
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — U.S. Rep. Antonio Delgado will serve as New York’s next lieutenant governor, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Tuesday.
Delgado, a Democrat, will take on the largely ceremonial role previously formerly held by Brian Benjamin, who resigned following his arrest for federal corruption charges he denies.
Hochul touted fellow Delgado’s work in Congress on bills to help veterans, small business and those with student loan debt. Delgado, a Rhodes Scholar who briefly pursued a rap career after earning a Harvard law degree, had campaigned on universal access to Medicare, creating good jobs and eliminating tax loopholes for the rich.
“Having won competitive primary and general elections for Congress, Rep. Antonio Delgado is a battle-tested campaigner who has the experience to serve New Yorkers and the work ethic to get our party’s message out to voters, unite communities, and lift up Democratic candidates statewide,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said.
It was unclear immediately when Delgado, who was first elected in 2018 to represent the Hudson Valley and the Catskills, would take office.
Delgado was the first person of color elected to represent upstate New York in Congress, and is a member of the Black and Hispanic Congressional Caucuses.
The appointment comes a day after Hochul signed a law that will allow Benjamin’s name to be removed from the ballot in the state’s upcoming Democratic primary, and potentially allow Delgado to run for the lieutenant governor’s job if he wants it permanently.
Delgado had won his swing district and ousted Republican incumbent Jon Faso, but Democrats had hoped to ensure Delgado’s win this year by drawing up new political district maps that a court later struck down as unconstitutionally gerrymandered.
An upstate judge and a researcher are now working on new maps, which are expected to give Democrats less of an edge than they hoped.
Delgado, a former litigator for a New York City international law firm, won by five percentage points against Faso. GOP ads at the time called him a “big-city liberal” and attacked Delgado song lyrics that were critical of capitalism and police.
“Antonio Delgado was smart and got a jump on the job market before he and the rest of his House Democrat colleagues lose this fall,” National Republican Congressional Committee spokeswoman Samantha Bullock said.