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(CNN) — Kathy Hochul was sworn in as New York’s first female governor shortly after the stroke of midnight on Tuesday, replacing her disgraced predecessor, Andrew Cuomo, who resigned amid multiple scandals, including a report from the state attorney general that found he sexually harassed 11 women.

A Buffalo native, Hochul served as Cuomo’s lieutenant governor since 2015. But the pair were rarely seen together outside of campaign seasons. In her public comments after Cuomo announced he would step down, Hochul sought to stress her distance from the tainted executive as she prepared to take the reins and launch her own bid for reelection next year.

In Hochul’s first remarks as the governor-in-waiting, on August 11, she stiff-armed Cuomo, promising to ditch any of his aides “named as doing anything unethical” in state Attorney General Letitia James’ report as part of her efforts to remake a notoriously noxious executive chamber.

“No one,” Hochul said, “will ever describe my administration as a toxic work environment.”

Hochul’s ascent coincides with the final act of Cuomo’s decade-long run in charge of New York state, a period in which he ruthlessly consolidated power and become a national political star. During the first months of the coronavirus pandemic, his daily televised briefings won him the adoration of Democrats across the country, who held Cuomo up as the fact-driven antithesis of then-President Donald Trump.

But he burned out spectacularly in the months that followed, when a closer look at his handling of the crisis revealed questionable decision-making — most notably his administration’s decision to send Covid-19 patients back to nursing homes — and put a spotlight on his alleged use of state resources to help in writing a triumphal memoir.

By early this year, the former governor, once believed to be ticketed for a fourth term, was facing mounting allegations of sexual misconduct, which he still denies, and a backlash over the state health department’s underreporting of Covid-19-related deaths in nursing homes.

Facing impeachment in the state Assembly and conviction and removal by the state Senate, Cuomo announced nearly two weeks ago that he would step down. Assembly leaders hit pause on their investigation days later but then backtracked, eventually deciding to complete a report outlining their findings. It has not yet been released.

Stepping out from Cuomo’s long shadow and winning over leaders and lawmakers who clashed with him has been an early priority for Hochul, 62, who will immediately be faced with an onslaught of new and lingering challenges — from rising Covid-19 case rates to speeding up the dispersal of rental assistance and potentially extending the statewide eviction moratorium, which is set to expire on August 31.

Reinforcing old relationships and building new ones with the legislature, which was often treated scornfully by Cuomo, could be crucial to Hochul’s fate — now and as the next election season comes into focus. Following through on her promise to cast out top Cuomo aides would likely be a welcome start, said Kenneth Sherrill, a professor emeritus of political science at Hunter College.

“I don’t think it’s hard to identify the leading thugs. Everybody in Albany can name them and most of the press corps can name them. They have never been shy about making the phone calls or doing it face-to-face,” Sherrill told CNN. “That’s got to be done. And I think that a lot of it has to do with building up a good relationship with the legislature.”