Hochul on Cuomo pardon: Ask me after the election, or something

Kathy Hochul stands ready to answer the tough questions as New York’s governor-to-be … well, some of them, anyway. The woman who will succeed the disgraced Andrew Cuomo hasn’t yet taken the oath of office, but she’s willing to take the oath of re-election already. Hochul tells NBC’s Savannah Guthrie on Today that she already plans to run for the office in the fall of 2022 after finishing up Cuomo’s term:

“Yes I will,” the incoming governor of New York said when asked on “Today” whether she’ll run.

“I fully expect to. I’ve prepared for this, I’ve led a life working in every level of government from Congress to local government, I am the most prepared person to assume this responsibility, and I’m going to ask the voters at some point for their faith in me again,” Hochul said.

“But right now, I need their faith and their prayers and I need their support to make sure we get this right, and I’m confident they’ll see that I fight like hell every single day,” she added.

Isn’t that putting the cart before the horse a bit? Cuomo’s technically still in office for another twelve days or so. Hochul has yet to spend Day 1 in the job. She may be the “most prepared” to take over, but that’s only by dint of her current office. Other Democrats will stake their own claims to that descriptor, especially Letitia James, the AG whose report took Cuomo down while Hochul remained curiously quiet about Cuomo’s scandals for months.

Speaking of which, Hochul doesn’t have much of an answer for this tough question. Pick this up at 27:15 if the clip doesn’t start there (spelling errors corrected):

Democratic New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul says it is “far too premature” to discuss a potential pardon for Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo should he be convicted on sexual misconduct charges, Hochul said Wednesday. …

“If Cuomo is convicted of any criminal charges, would you consider pardoning him?” a reporter asked.

“I’m gonna tell you right now I’m talking about my vision for the state of New York,” Hochul responded. “It is far too premature to even have those conversations.”

Premature? Wasn’t it “premature” to hold the presser, let alone announce an election campaign for an office that Hochul hasn’t yet taken? The 55-minute presser outlined Hochul’s vision for the state, again before she took the oath of office. Besides, this is a pretty easy hypothetical, and Hochul is under no legal obligation to demur from it. If Cuomo gets convicted of criminal charges, which is itself a hypothetical, would Hochul pardon him? Of course not, not unless she wants to have her political career come to an end almost as ignominiously as Cuomo’s did.

The combination of the two positions is almost risible: Vote for me and maybe I’ll pardon Cuomo — or maybe not! Tough to fit that on a bumper sticker, but it’s likely to stick to Hochul anyway, especially once James launches her gubernatorial campaign.