The lieutenant governor's job is a little regarded one in state government in New York. Only mentioned in passing in the state constitution, the job often consists of ceremonial ribbon cutting, presiding over the state Senate and waiting for something to happen to the governor.
But a poll released Tuesday by Unite NY and conducted by John Zogby Strategies found voters do care about who fills the job.
The poll found 88% of voters surveyed in the state believe the lieutenant governor should have the "readiness to lead immediately" as their most important trait.
And it's not necessarily an academic concern for a post former Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch once described as the "most useless experience" of his life. Malcolm Wilson, Mario Cuomo, David Paterson and Kathy Hochul all served as lieutenant governor before resignation, election or scandal led them into the top job.
The poll was released the same day Brian Benjamin resigned from the office hours after he was indicted on charges of bribery and fraud stemming from his unsuccessful campaign for New York City comptroller.
“Unite NY’s Voter Empowerment Index has consistently found that voters not only want political reform, but they are more likely to support candidates who make it part of their campaign platforms," said Martin Babinec, the founder of the group Unite NY. "Our latest edition, completed just a few days ago, reaffirms this and with the arrest of the second-highest elected official in New York, we need candidates who not only will fight to fix a broken system, but will make sure their ticket doesn’t include someone recently in handcuffs.”
Benjamin had been expected to compete in a Democratic primary for lieutenant governor, facing activist Ana Maria Archila and former New York City Councilmember Diana Reyna.
On the Republican side, former NYPD Deputy Inspector Alison Esposito is the preferred running mate of Rep. Lee Zeldin.
It's not yet clear if Hochul will select a replacement for Benjamin in the office, or if Democrats will be able to replace him on the statewide ballot ahead of the June primary.
State Sneate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins is serving in as lieutenant governor in an acting capacity.
The poll released on Tuesday found Zeldin drawing 27.8% of support, with former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino at 15.2% and Harry Wilson at 10.5% of support. Former Trump administration official Andrew Giuliani is in a virtual tie with Zeldin at 29.1% of support, the poll found.
The poll of the GOP primary was conducted April 10 and has a margin of error of 6.1 percentage points.