Gov. Kathy Hochul formally introduced U.S. Rep. Antonio Delgado as the state's next lieutenant governor — the state's third second-in-command in eight months as the Hudson Valley congressman prepares to step down from federal office.
Delgado has represented the state's 19th Congressional District, encompassing 11 counties across the Hudson Valley and rural areas of the Capital Region, since 2019.
"It wasn't a choice to leave, it was a choice to go and connect with folks across the whole state," Delgado said in the state Capitol on Tuesday afternoon. "It was about building off of the work I have been doing."
The seven members of the state Committee to Fill Vacancies unanimously voted Tuesday to designate Delgado as the state's next lieutenant governor after former Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin resigned from office last month after facing federal charges of bribery and fraud.
Delgado will take the state oath of office this month at a date to be determined.
"The only question is the exact timing he will resign from Congress," Hochul said. "There is work to be finished before he assumes these responsibilities."
The governor said a large staff of attorneys, legal aides and law enforcement performed a deep dive into Delgado's background to avoid repeating scandals, such as Benjamin's legal troubles that led to his resignation.
"We brought in outside individuals to begin a very, very thorough vetting process," Hochul said. "That is something we took very, very seriously and I know we got it right."
Delgado grew up in Schenectady and is a graduate of Harvard Law School, a University of Oxford Rhodes scholar and holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and political science from Colgate University.
He lives in Rhinebeck with his wife, Lacey Schwartz Delgado, who is originally from Woodstock. They have third-grade twin boys, Maxwell and Coltrane.
"We have to have the best team here," Hochul said. "I said I would find the best and we have found the very best. [I wanted] a person who valued the power of government to work for people. We've found that person."
Benjamin removed himself from the ballot Monday night after the Legislature passed a law to allow political nominees charged with a crime to vacate a party ticket.
"I appreciate the leadership for making sure that happened," Hochul said of the measure that passed with a narrow margin of Democrat support.
Delgado will appear as Gov. Hochul's running mate on the ballot for the statewide primary election scheduled for June 28.
A special election for the 19th District seat must be set within 10 days of the congressman's resignation and must be held within three months.
"We're keeping an eye on that," Hochul said.