N.Y. AG Letitia James Expected to Announce Run for Governor
(Bloomberg) -- New York Attorney General Letitia James is expected to soon announce a run for governor after less than one term as the state’s top law enforcement officer, according to two people familiar with the situation.
James, a Democrat whose probe into claims of sexual assault by former Governor Andrew Cuomo helped trigger his resignation in August, would become the nation’s first Black woman to be elected a state chief executive. She could announce her decision as soon as Thursday, said the people, who requested anonymity to discuss the matter.
Her spokeswoman Delaney Kempner declined to comment. An advisor, Kimberly Peeler-Allen, said James had made up her mind.
“Attorney General Letitia James has made a decision regarding the governor’s race,” Peeler-Allen said in a statement. “She will be announcing it in the coming days.”
James, 63, spent a decade on the New York City Council and four years as the city’s public advocate before becoming attorney general in 2019. Cuomo and Eliot Spitzer were also attorney general before running for governor.
‘This Is The Time’
An elected U.S. official said Wednesday night that he had been in contact with James about the potential run since last week and that he believed she felt “the pressure, in a sense, of ‘this is the time.’” The official, who was granted anonymity to discuss his conversations, said that he had been told on Wednesday that she had made a decision to run.
As attorney general, James frequently clashed in court with former President Donald Trump’s administration, raising her national profile in the process. She also launched a civil probe into whether the Trump Organization engaged in bank and insurance fraud by misrepresenting the value of its assets and worked with Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance on the ongoing tax-fraud prosecution of the company and its former chief financial officer. Both have pleaded not guilty.
James also helped lead legal battles against what she described as monopolies on social media, joining other states in lawsuits against Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google. Last year, she initiated a sprawling suit seeking to dissolve the National Rifle Association, which was founded in New York, accusing the gun-rights group of engaging in a massive fraud against donors.
Her confrontation with Cuomo over allegations of inappropriate behavior with several women who worked in the state government elevated her profile higher. Her report concluded that he had sexually harassed 11 women and created a “climate of fear” in his office. Cuomo still faces possible criminal and civil investigations. He has denied wrongdoing.
James said in a statement at the time that his resignation “closes a sad chapter.”
“I thank Governor Cuomo for his contributions to our state,” James said. “We must continue to build on the progress already made and improve the lives of New Yorkers in every corner of the state.”
Cuomo said the attorney general’s report was politically motivated.
A likely run by James sets up a competitive Democratic gubernatorial primary. Cuomo was succeeded in office by Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who has said she will be a candidate in the 2022 election. In addition, New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, has officially filed paperwork with the state to run, according to campaign filings with the state Board of Elections. Both are Democrats.
A Marist Institute for Public Opinion poll released on Oct. 12 showed Hochul as the early Democratic front-runner. In a hypothetical race also including James, Williams and Cuomo -- who is not legally barred from mounting another run -- 36% of New Yorkers said they would vote for Hochul. James got 24%, Cuomo got 19%, Williams got 9% and 12% were undecided. The Oct. 4-7 poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 6.9 percentage points.
The state’s Republican Party, keen to avoid a primary, in June selected U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin as its presumptive nominee. Other potential Republican candidates who still intend to run include Andrew Giuliani, the son of former New York City mayor and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, who lost to Cuomo in 2014.
James worked in the attorney general’s office in Brooklyn earlier in her career before being elected to the New York City Council from Brooklyn and as the city’s public advocate.
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