ALBANY — Although Mayor Bill de Blasio’s flirtation with running for governor is drawing laughs, Hizzoner is getting a consolation prize: his former aides are already running state government without him.
Gov. Kathy Hochul appears to be hiring from a pretty select pool of candidates — people who previously worked for the outgoing mayor — elevating ex-City Hall staffers to key position in Albany including top spots such as state operations director, health commissioner and advisors tied to her 2022 gubernatorial reelection campaign.
Her first big ex-de Blasio hire came when she secured Kathyrn Garcia as her new director of State Operations — a massive role in state government that oversees day-to-day operations, as well as every agency in the state.
Garcia previously served as the Commissioner of the NYC Department of Sanitation under de Blasio and he named her his food czar to deliver food to the elderly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
She was also was runner-up in the recent June 2021 Democratic mayoral primary to favored candidate, Brooklyn Borough President, Eric Adams.
Hochul then nominated Mary Bassett as her new health commissioner to replace the outgoing, embattled Dr. Howard Zucker, and her appointment will take effect Dec. 1.
Bassett was Hizzoner’s health commissioner, too, and is leaving a plum post at Harvard University to head the DOH as the state continues its COVID-19 recovery.
The new governor tapped Amit Bagga to be her deputy secretary for intergovernmental affairs — he was deputy director of the New York City Census Office under de Blasio.
And Jackie Bray was nominated to be the Empire State’s next commissioner of Homeland Security and Emergency Services. She’s presently de Blasio’s deputy executive director of NYC Health + Hospital’s COVID-19 Test and Trace Corps program and previously served as first deputy commissioner of the city Department of Homeless Services.
“While the mayor may not be elected governor, several of his most talented senior staff are effectively gonna be running whole swaths of state government for the foreseeable future in the Hochul administration,” political consultant Neal Kwatra told The Post.
Hochul’s reelection campaign also scooped up Amelia Adams as a senior advisor, who serves as president of consulting firm Adams Advisors LLC. Adams was de Blasio’s political director during his 2017 reelection run.
Tyquana Henderson-Rivers of Connective Strategies has been hired by the campaign and previously consulted for de Blasio during his 2009 public advocate bid.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority — the state transit authority Hochul controls — also plucked de Blasio aides.
Lisette Camilo, former commissioner of the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, was named MTA’s chief administrative officer, the entity announced Tuesday.
Jamie Torres, who formerly worked for de Blasio as head of the Department of Design and Construction, was tapped as the MTA’s president of construction and development.
Meanwhile, newly minted Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin also caught the de Blasio bug, selecting Stacy Lynch to be his chief of staff. She was former deputy director of Intergovernmental Affairs for Hizzoner.
Despite having an indirect influence in the state Capitol, de Blasio himself remains unpopular.
In a recent Siena College poll, Hizzoner — as a Democrat — is more unpopular than former Republican President Donald Trump among all registered voters in the state.
He also finished dead last in a five-way match up pitting 2022’s gubernatorial hopefuls up against one another — with Gov. Kathy Hochul leading the pack followed by disgraced ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo, state Attorney General Letitia James, NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Wiliams.
The lame duck mayor’s future plans also weren’t deemed legitimate enough to score him a spot in a separate Marist Institute for Public Opinion survey, as the pollsters didn’t find him “serious” enough a candidate.