Thursday, December 9, 2021

REPORT: NY Attorney General Letitia James Ends Run for Governor Only Months After Announcing Bid

FILE — New York Attorney General Letitia James addresses a news conference at her office, in New York, May 21, 2021. James is seeking former President Donald Trump's testimony in an ongoing investigation into his business practices, a person familiar with the matter said, Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Source: AP News

Published: December 8, 2021

By: Michael R. Sisak and Michelle L. Price

NEW YORK (AP) — New York Attorney General Letitia James suspended her campaign for governor Thursday, saying she will run for reelection to her current position to “finish the job” amid numerous ongoing investigations, including one into former President Donald Trump.

James, a Democrat, had announced in late October that she was running for governor, two months after a sexual harassment investigation she oversaw led former Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign. She had been expected to be a strong challenger against Gov. Kathy Hochul for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in an increasingly crowded field.

James ended her campaign for governor the same day it was reported she was seeking to have Trump sit for a Jan. 7 deposition in an ongoing civil probe into his business practices.

“I have come to the conclusion that I must continue my work as attorney general,” James, a Democrat, said in a statement. “There are a number of important investigations and cases that are underway, and I intend to finish the job. I am running for re-election to complete the work New Yorkers elected me to do.”

James, 63, is the first woman elected as New York’s attorney general and the first Black person to serve in the role. Had she been elected governor, James would have been the first Black person voted into the role and the first Black female governor in the U.S. New York’s only Black governor, David Paterson, didn’t run for election after taking over in 2007 when Gov. Eliot Spitzer resigned in a sex scandal.

Earlier on Thursday, James’ office canceled a planned event on Long Island. Since announcing her campaign in October, James held few campaign events or news conferences and mostly stuck to her official calendar as attorney general.

In recent weeks, she publicly called for Hochul to take more aggressive measures, like imposing a statewide mask mandate, to fight rising COVID-19 cases.

Several recent polls showed Hochul holding a double-digit lead over James, but it was early in the campaign with ample time to close that gap.

Christina Greer, a political science professor at Fordham University, said Hochul’s moves to lock up support may have played a role in James’ calculation about whether to keep running.

“Kathy Hochul has been very aggressive these past few months shoring up endorsements and essentially the donor class of New York state. And it’s easier to do that as a sitting incumbent,” Greer said.

Since she became attorney general in 2019, James’ office filed dozens of lawsuits against the Trump administration over federal policies on immigration, the environment and other matters.

Her office would not comment Thursday on the investigation — now stretching more than two years — that involves an examination of whether Trump’s company misled banks or tax officials about the value of assets.

James also filed a lawsuit accusing National Rifle Association leaders of financial mismanagement — seeking to shut down the gun-rights organization — and has secured hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements from companies involved in the opioid industry.

James’ decision to run for governor so soon after overseeing the investigation that led to Cuomo’s exit reinforced feelings among his allies that the probe was politically motivated — an assertion James dismissed.

Both the governor’s office and the attorney general’s office are on the ballot in 2022.

“All I can say is, I respect her tremendously. Always have,” Hochul told reporters Thursday afternoon. She praised the work James has been doing as attorney general: “This is a very bad day for Donald Trump and the NRA.”

In addition to Hochul, James faced a primary race for governor that included U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi, a Democrat who represents Long Island, and Jumaane Williams, who serves as a citizen ombudsman in his elected office of New York City Public Advocate. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is also expected to enter the race.

James, Williams and de Blasio all have a political base in Brooklyn, which may have left the three of them dividing up that support and individually weaker as they tried to take on Hochul’s backing in upstate and western New York.

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