A push to impeach New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is gaining momentum after an independent inquiry said he had harassed multiple women.
The state senate leader and fellow Democrat Andrea Stewart-Cousins called his behaviour “unacceptable” and said he should resign.
A majority of the state assembly favour impeachment proceedings, which could lead to his removal.
The governor has denied any wrongdoing and vowed to stay in office.
Telling reporters it was not in his nature to assault a woman, he blamed cultural differences and political vindictiveness for the scandal.
He is part of a Democratic political dynasty – his late father was also governor – and he became a household name leading New York out of the pandemic.
In a statement, Mrs Stewart-Cousins said that Mr Cuomo must quit “for the good of the state”.
President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have also called for his resignation.
On Wednesday, the Associated Press reported that at least 86 of 150 members of the Democratic-controlled state assembly are in favour of initiating impeachment proceedings.
If a simple majority of members vote to impeach Mr Cuomo, the case moves to an impeachment court comprised of the state senate – except for its majority leader – as well as seven judges of New York’s highest court. A two-thirds vote would be needed to convict.
If that happens, Mr Cuomo would become only the second New York governor to be removed from office, following Governor William Sulzer in 1913.
Support for Mr Cuomo appears to also be slipping among voters.
A Marist poll released on Wednesday after the report found that 59% of New Yorkers believe he should resign, a big leap since the last poll.
The attorney general’s inquiry found that Mr Cuomo had harassed 11 women during his time in office.
Investigators spent five months speaking to nearly 200 people, including staff members and some of those who made complaints against him.
While the inquiry is civil – rather than criminal – several local district attorney offices across New York have asked to review its findings to determine whether criminal charges could potentially be filed.