Attorney General Letitia James officially jumped into the governor’s race Friday, putting an end to months of speculation about her future political plans. She will enter the Democratic primary facing Governor Kathy Hochul, who is seeking a full term after succeeding Andrew Cuomo following his resignation from office. If elected, James would become the first Black woman governor ever elected in the United States.
In a video posted to Twitter, James laid out some of the highlights of her time in politics, including suing the National Rifle Association, saying that her career was guided by a single goal: “Stand up to the powerful on behalf of the vulnerable.”
“I’ve gone after the drug companies for fueling the opioid crisis. I fought for better conditions and transparency in nursing homes,” James said, adding that she sued Donald Trump’s administration 76 times.
“But who’s counting?” she said with a slight shrug and smile.
In a clear reference to Cuomo and her office’s extensive investigation into the allegations of sexual harassment against him, James said that she has held accountable “those who mistreat and harass women in the workplace, no matter how powerful the offenders.”
James, 63, rose through the ranks of government from central Brooklyn, where she was raised and served on a City Council seat from 2003 to 2013. That year, she ran and won the first of two terms as New York City’s public advocate. Finally, in 2018, she ran for attorney general following Eric Schneiderman’s resignation over allegations of sexual misconduct.
The Democratic primary is shaping up to be a crowded one full of prominent party names. Hochul declared her intent to run for a full term early on in her tenure as governor, with Brian Benjamin, the state’s lieutenant governor, seeking to reprise his role as well. Jumaane Williams, who succeeded James as public advocate, has also expressed his interest in a gubernatorial run and launched an exploratory committee even as he was running for a second term in his current position. Mayor Bill de Blasio is also believed to be mulling a run for governor despite a current lack of popularity. A Marist poll released in mid-October showed Hochul leading with 44 percent support to 28 percent for James and 15 percent for Williams.
A potential wild card in the race is the governor’s office’s most recent occupant. Though staffers have previously said that Cuomo has no plans to run for office again, he previously stated his intention to seek a fourth term. Cuomo and his team have frequently accused James of having a political motivation in releasing the bombshell report that corroborated sexual-harassment allegations against the then-governor from 11 women, forcing him from office.