Hochul says she will run for reelection in 2026

The governor also suggested that she will not replace Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado on the ticket.

Gov. Kathy Hochul announces a new campaign to promote physical and mental health in New York City on July 2, 2024.

Gov. Kathy Hochul announces a new campaign to promote physical and mental health in New York City on July 2, 2024. Rebecca C. Lewis

Gov. Kathy Hochul put to rest any doubt about her plans for 2026 on Tuesday, telling reporters unequivocally that she is running for a second term in two years. “2026 may be a long way off, (but) I’m running,” Hochul told reporters at an unrelated press conference in Harlem. “I’m preparing for that race.”

Hochul ascended to the governorship roughly three years ago when former Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigned, making her the state’s first female governor. But she had a tough election cycle in 2022, her first race for governor, against Republican Lee Zeldin. Despite handily besting her two Democratic primary challengers, Hochul came within six percentage points of losing to Zeldin, making it the closest gubernatorial contest in decades. 

The governor shocked many last month when she abruptly paused the implementation of congestion pricing, which had been set to begin on Sunday. While opponents of the tolling scheme applauded her decision, proponents including Reps. Jerry Nadler and Ritchie Torres harshly criticized the move. The backlash led to whispers about potential primary challenges to the governor, with Politico New York reporting that Torres and Rep. Tom Suozzi, who had run against her in 2022, might challenge her for the Democratic nomination in 2026. Hochul is also expected to face a strong Republican challenger – perhaps Rep. Mike Lawler, who has not been shy about his gubernatorial aspirations – if she runs for reelection in two years. 

But on Tuesday, the governor indicated that she plans to run for another term in 2026 – and to stick with Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado as her running mate. “I have a very strong relationship with my lieutenant governor, we communicate regularly,” she said when asked about any potential changes to the ticket. “He is doing a phenomenal job traveling the state promoting some of his signature initiatives, so I’m very happy with what we’re doing now.” 

The past four governors who served more than one term have had a different lieutenant governor for their second one. Cuomo replaced Bob Duffy, his first lieutenant governor, with Hochul in 2014. Former Gov. George Pataki dropped Betsy McCaughey in favor of Mary Donohue for his second term. Former Gov. Mario Cuomo brought in Stan Lundine as his running mate for his last two terms after Alfred DelBello left the position to become Westchester county executive in 1985. And Hugh Carey brought on the senior Cuomo as his lieutenant governor after his first one – Mary Anne Krupsak – challenged him for governor.

Delgado is already Hochul’s second lieutenant governor, chosen as her running mate after the resignation of former Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin following his indictment on bribery and wire fraud charges in 2022. Before Delgado was named to replace Benjamin, speculation abounded about who would replace Benjamin – and some of the officials whose names were floated at the time, like recently appointed Dormitory Authority head Robert Rodriguez, still remain in Hochul’s circle. 

Delgado also recently announced a new PAC meant to help get Democrats elected in New York swing districts – which could raise his own political profile. While Hochul has played a leading role in trying to win back the House in New York, Delgado – at least publicly – has not appeared to be involved in those political efforts. The website for Delgado’s new PAC, the VOICE PAC, only features Delgado, not Hochul.

A spokesperson for Delgado's campaign confirmed that the lieutenant governor also plans to run for reelection in 2026. The lieutenant governor candidates compete in a separate primary but then run on a joint ticket with gubernatorial candidates.