“The committee has spoken. The nomination was lost," New York State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins remarked regarding what happened to Gov. Kathy Hochul’s chief judge pick, Hector LaSalle, on Wednesday. She spoke after 10 Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted against advancing LaSalle to a full Senate vote, concluding nearly five hours of public questioning, according to Politico. Hochul declined to accept the blow, instead sending out a swift statement dismissing the committee's authority and integrity. "While this was a thorough hearing, it was not a fair one, because the outcome was predetermined. … While the Committee plays a role, we believe the Constitution requires action by the full Senate,” the governor said, alluding to her view that "advice and consent" means something more helpful in the New York Constitution than it does in U.S. Constitution. Stewart-Cousins said the committee speaks for the Senate, and there are many other people her conference would favor as chief judge.
The question is how Hochul will react to losing her first big power struggle with the state Legislature and whether she can afford to hold the kind of grudges that often fester in Albany. If Hochul sues the Senate, what’s to stop dual supermajorities from overriding any or every one of her gubernatorial vetoes? She doesn’t have too many other open nominations aside from her recommendation for New York Power Authority head. Hochul she does have a handful of open spots to lead agencies within her administration — including at Tax, Health, Corrections, Budget, Thruway State Police, and Child and Family Services — that will require nominations and legislative approval. She has a\ executive budget filled with grand plans to transform housing and mental health over the next several years that she’ll need to introduce by Feb. 1. By then, it'll be time to face the legislative majority that just showed off its authority.