Letitia James launches gubernatorial bid, sets up primary battle with Hochul

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New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) officially launched a gubernatorial bid Friday, setting up what is expected to be a fierce primary battle with incumbent Gov. Kathy Hochul (D). 

James, who was elected state attorney general in 2018 and would be the country’s first Black, female governor if victorious, announced her campaign in a video, casting herself as a “force for change” and highlighting her lawsuits against drug companies, the National Rifle Association and former President Trump.

“As I’ve traveled all around New York state, I have witnessed too many working families struggling to make ends meet, and it’s clear that the status quo just won’t do,” James said in a statement. “New Yorkers need a governor who isn’t afraid to stand up to powerful interests on behalf of the vulnerable.” 

“Throughout my career, I’ve taken on big forces and New Yorkers know I will never back down when it comes to fighting for them. Today, I am proud to announce my candidacy for governor of New York so we can bring transformational change that uplifts all New Yorkers.”

James had long been expected to jump into the race, spending the last few weeks hiring campaign aides and planting seeds for a potential run. 

James saw her platform rise during the Trump years with lawsuits against the Trump administration over a slew of policies. But her profile skyrocketed when she released a report on her office’s investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against former Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), in part leading him to resign in August. 

The attorney general referenced her role in Cuomo’s demise in her video, saying, “I’ve held accountable those who mistreat and harass women in the workplace, no matter how powerful the offenders.”

James will face headwinds to topple Hochul, who had the primary field to herself for months after announcing her own bid in August. In the meantime, Hochul has crisscrossed the state, racked up endorsements from people like the state Democratic Party chair and the head of the New York NAACP and launched a fundraising blitz. 

New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, a progressive favorite, has also jumped into the race.

The current governor hails from the western part of the state and has her power base outside of New York City. Meanwhile, James is Black and hails from Brooklyn, handing her a separate well to draw her base support, though she does not have a reputation as a strong fundraiser.

Both Hochul and James have sought to bolster their liberal bona fides but are more identified with the moderate wing of the Democratic Party. 

Other possible Democratic candidates include New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Rep. Thomas Suozzi, who represents a Long Island district.

Marist poll released earlier this month showed Hochul posting double-digit leads over James and Williams, though the survey did not test support for de Blasio or Suozzi.

Updated at 2:02 p.m.

Tags Andrew Cuomo Bill de Blasio Donald Trump Governor of New York Kathy Hochul Letitia James New York
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