Speculation is swirling in Albany that Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy may leave the Cuomo administration next year for a job running the Rochester Business Alliance. Duffy did little to dismiss the rumor, telling Gannett Albany that he would address his political plans at an appropriate time in the future.
Among the names floating about as a possible replacement for the LG if he bolts are Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and Leecia Eve, formerly one of Cuomo’s top deputies; however, a number of veteran Capitol watches said they believe Cuomo would lean toward both balancing the ticket genderwise and shoring up support in Western or upstate New York by going with a choice like former Rep. Kathy Hochul or Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney.
Mahoney, a Republican, would be an intriguing choice, enabling Cuomo to assert his commitment to bipartisanship, however she could prove problematic for Cuomo if he intends to run for president in 2016, since he would be handing over the governorship to the GOP if he were elected.
“One of the people he was interested in the last time was Mahoney and he has a very close relationship with her,” said one political observer who declined to give his name based on the sensitivity of the situation. “There’s real affinity between the two and it was a real possibility. Hochul has an independent streak that I think would give them pause. He’s not going to want to have [someone] who might differ with him, tying his hands on issues.”
Despite all the talk, a source close to the governor said the speculation is “just wrong” and that the likelihood of Duffy leaving is “zero.”