Attorney General Letitia James announced on Thursday that she is suspending her campaign for governor of New York, stunning the political world and shaking up the crowded Democratic field for governor and attorney general, for which she will seek a second term.
“I have come to the conclusion that I must continue my work as attorney general,” James said in a statement. “There are a number of important investigations and cases that are under way, and I intend to finish the job. I am running for reelection to complete the work New Yorkers elected me to do.”
James launched her campaign in late October, touting years of experience in New York City government and her high-profile lawsuits as AG against the National Rifle Association and the Trump administration. (The New York Times reported earlier in the day that James’s office is seeking to depose former Donald Trump as part of a civil fraud inquiry concerning his company’s business practices.) Her biggest accomplishment, of course, was commissioning a damning report about the sexual-misconduct allegations against Andrew Cuomo that forced him from office last summer. But her fundraising numbers were relatively weak, and she took a curiously lax approach to campaigning. Recent polls have shown Governor Kathy Hochul, running for her first full term, holding a commanding lead over James in the Democratic primary.
During a briefing Thursday, Hochul said that James called her earlier that morning to inform her of her intent to drop out of the governor’s race.
“All I can say is I respect her tremendously, always have, that it has never been not the case and we’re going to do great things and I look forward to having her on the ticket as we head into the November election together,” Hochul said.
James’s exit makes Hochul’s path in the primary much clearer, though there are still plenty of other Democrats running including Jumaane Williams, the city’s public advocate and Tom Suozzi, a Long Island congressman. Jay Jacobs, head of the state’s Democratic Party, subsequently called on both men to drop out. Her decision also upends the attorney general’s race, which may now become a rematch between James and law professor Zephyr Teachout, who ran against her in the 2018 primary. Democrat Shelley Mayer, who recently declared her candidacy for attorney general, said on Thursday afternoon that she will now support James’s reelection. Laura Gillen, who was mulling a potential run, will no longer jump in and Maria Vullo will continue her bid, according to Newsday. Eric Gonazlez, the Brooklyn district attorney believed to be considering a run, has so far remained silent about any such plans.
The New York Times reported earlier in the day that James’s office is seeking to depose former president Donald Trump as part of a civil fraud inquiry concerning his company’s business practices.