Cuomo, a Democrat, was set to end his term at 11:59 p.m., just under two weeks after he announced he would resign rather than face a likely impeachment battle over sexual harassment allegations.
Hochul was scheduled be sworn in just after midnight by the state’s chief judge, Janet DiFiore, in a brief, private ceremony.
In a pre-recorded farewell address released at noon, Cuomo boasted of making government effective in his years in office, cited his work battling the Covid-19 pandemic and struck a defiant tone on the harassment allegations.
He said the report that triggered his resignation — a scathing account of what Attorney General Letitia James said was sexual harassment or inappropriate touching of 11 women — as “designed to be a political firecracker on an explosive topic, and it did work,” Cuomo said. “There was a political and media stampede.”
But he said prolonging his fight in office “could only cause governmental paralysis and that is just not an option for you and not an option for the state, especially now.”
Some critics jumped on Cuomo’s last remarks as self-serving.
“100000000 opportunities to be a better leader. Chose himself every time. Goodbye, Governor Cuomo,” tweeted Assembly member Yuh-Line Niou,” a fellow Democrat.
The switch in leadership was happening in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Henri, which narrowly missed Long Island on Sunday but dumped rain over parts of the Catskill Mountains and Hudson River Valley.
The storm drew Cuomo back out into public view over the weekend, albeit briefly. He gave two televised briefings — warning New Yorkers to take the storm seriously with the same mix of scolding and reassurance that once made his daily Covid-19 briefings popular.
In a statement released to some news organizations, Cuomo’s top aide, Melissa DeRosa, said the governor was exploring his options for what to do after he leaves office but had “no interest in running for office again.”
Hochul, also a Democrat, will inherit immense challenges as she takes over an administration facing criticism for inaction in Cuomo’s distracted final months in office.