There are potential options for removing former Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin from the upcoming June primary ballot as he faces fraud and bribery charges, Gov. Kathy Hochul said Monday.
But those options, she acknowledged in the interview with WAMC's Alan Chartock, are likely quite narrow. She did not go into detail.
"They're limited, of course, I'm not being naive about it," Hochul said of potential ways of removing Benjamin. "But you know, there are some other options that are still on the table."
Benjamin suspended his campaign and resigned last week after he was indicted on five counts of corruption stemming from campaign donations to his failed bid last year for New York City comptroller. He has denied any wrongdoing.
The governor is facing the possibility of running for a full term this year without a running mate sympathetic to her campaign. Democratic gubernatorial primary opponents Rep. Tom Suozzi and New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams have selected their own preferred running mates, Diana Reyna and Ana Maria Archila.
The candidates for governor and lieutenant governor run separately in a primary and form an official ticket in the general election.
Benjamin could move out of the state and be disqualified ahead of the primary. Democratic Assemblywoman Amy Paulin has signaled she will introduce a bill that would enable a candidate for office facing criminal charges to be removed from the ballot, though the bill is unlikely to pass in time to affect the June vote.
Hochul did not rule out some sort of legislative action, however, and said she would consider whatever lawmakers approve.
"So what I'm going to do is take a look at whatever passes the Legislature," she said. "This is obviously talked about and initiated by legislators, it's their responsibility if they choose to go down that path."
As for a replacement for Benjamin in office, that person could very well prove to be a placeholder for a job with little clear public duties or role beyond presiding over the state Senate.
Hochul in the interview said "a lot of people have expressed interest" in the job.
"They believe that our administration is going to be transformative and that's what I wanted, when you see what we've accomplished thus far," she said.