In the days after the election, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has faced questions over whether she will replace the chairman of the state Democratic Committee, Jay Jacobs, after a less-than-great showing for the party on Long Island and in the Hudson Valley.
Hochul's answer on Tuesday: She's the leader of the New York Democrats.
"I am the leader of the state party," she told reporters during a tour of a food bank in the Albany area. "That would be me."
Indeed, Hochul has plans for New York Democrats as she prepares for a four-year term after taking office more than a year ago following the resignation of Andrew Cuomo.
"I'm embracing this opportunity to be able to show that New York state can be able to place where we support candidates, we've raised the resources, our messaging is consistent and to elevate the people who want to have the same vision I have, which is to take New York state forward and espouse these values," she said.
The governor wants to recruit more people of color and women to run for elected office in New York. She wants a "talent pool" and new generation of candidates to run.
For now, she's backed the continued tenure of Jacobs to remain as the state party chairman. It's a decision that in theory rests with voting members of the Democratic committee, but Hochul's voice carries a lot of weight in the matter.
But Hochul also indicated she's looking to build the party outward, looking beyond the leadership question she's been getting whenever she speaks with reporters.
"This is when we build up the team," she said. "This is when we have the opportunity to build up the party."
Hochul on Tuesday afternoon was in the suburban Capital Region to visit the regional food bank and meet with volunteers helping sort food ahead of Thanksgiving on Thursday. She appeared alongside U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand to help pack up squash alongside Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard Ball.
Asked if the brief foray into food sorting was more fun than negotiating with the Legislature, Hochul smiled and said, "It's gotta be negotiations with the Legislature. That's something I'm really looking forward to."
But she also acknowledged New Yorkers are facing struggles as the holiday season approaches.
"A lot of families who never thought they would be needing food from a food bank are working individuals who aren't keeping up with inflation," she said.
Asked what she is thankful for as she walked away from a clutch of reporters Hochul responded, "everything."