NY Attorney General Letitia James set to enter governor race!
New York, New York - NY State Attorney General Letitia James is slated to make her gubernatorial ambitions crystal clear and is expected to officially announce her candidacy by the end of the week, sources told the Daily News on Wednesday.
The Brooklyn-born Democrat, who previously served in both the City Council and as public advocate, is hoping to become the first Black woman elected governor in not only New York, but in the United States.
Union leaders and lawmakers said James was making calls to alert potential supporters about her decision Wednesday afternoon.
A source close to James confirmed she is likely to go public with her decision before the end of the week and is planning to release a video along with her announcement.
James entering the race means incumbent Governor Kathy Hochul, a fellow Dem who took the reins in Albany after disgraced ex-Governor Andrew Cuomo resigned this summer following the release of a damning report from James’ office detailing sexual harassment allegations against him, must prepare for a likely heated primary.
Recent surveys from Marist and Siena both show Hochul with a healthy lead ahead of potential primary challengers, James included.
The Democratic primary in June is still taking shape and voters could very well change their minds as the field grows more crowded, with public advocate Jumaane Williams filing paperwork to run and Mayor Bill de Blasio and Long Island Rep. Thomas Suozzi both weighing jumping into the race.
The rise and rise of Letitia James
James’ political ambitions have been an open secret for months as she appeared to be gauging public interest with campaign-style speeches at various events and a statewide tour in which she distributed opioid settlement funds to counties across New York. Supporters have quietly made calls on her behalf for months, trying to line up donors behind her bid.
During her time as the Empire State’s top prosecutor, James has overseen investigations into the Trump Organization and the National Rifle Association and has taken the lead in targeting pharma companies over the opioid crisis.
Elected attorney general in 2018, James is the first Black woman to hold a statewide office in New York.
While lawsuits against former President Donald Trump, the federal government, and the NRA raised her profile during her tenure as AG, James’ actions against Cuomo this year set the stage for her current run as well conflict and criticisms.
Her office not only oversaw the independent investigation that prompted the former governor’s departure, but also released a scathing report back in January criticizing the Cuomo administration’s handling of nursing homes deaths during the Covid crisis.
That report concluded that Cuomo officials under-counted nursing home deaths by up to 50% during the height of the pandemic.
Going up against big names
In March, as multiple women came forward to accuse Cuomo of inappropriate behavior, the then-governor reluctantly tasked James with hiring outside investigators to probe the claims and issue a public report.
A five-month investigation led to the bombshell report issued in August by James’ office which detailed the accounts of nearly a dozen women, mostly much younger staffer, who accused Cuomo of making sexualized comments and unwanted advances.
In addition to the harassment claims, investigators determined the Cuomo administration was a "hostile work environment" that was "rife with fear and intimidation."
Cuomo has maintained his innocence despite stepping down as his legal team continues to argue he was "ambushed" by James, accusing the AG of political bias in near-weekly press conferences.
The pair were once close and Cuomo openly backed James’ 2018 attorney general bid.
James entered the political arena in 2003, winning a council seat as a candidate on the Working Families Party line. A decade later, she defeated Daniel Squadron in a runoff election to become the Democratic nominee for public advocate. She was re-elected to that post in 2017 before running for AG following the resignation of Eric Schneiderman.
James made challenging the Trump administration’s agenda a hallmark of her time in office, filing suits and often marking legal wins when it came to blocking immigration agents from making arrests at courthouses and investigating the ex-president’s finances.
Cover photo: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire