New York Attorney General Letitia James will seek the Democratic nomination for governor next year, pitting her against current Gov. Kathy Hochul who took over after a sexual harassment scandal drove former Gov. Andrew Cuomo from office.
Three sources told The Associated Press on Wednesday that James is planning to run, making her a formidable challenger to Hochul who ascended to her post in August after being elected to serve as New York’s lieutenant governor in 2014. Both she and Cuomo were reelected in 2018.
The sources who spoke to the AP indicated that James will make her announcement later this week.
“Attorney General Letitia James has made a decision regarding the governor´s race. She will be announcing it in the coming days,” said Kimberly Peeler-Allen, a James campaign adviser, in a statement.
If she does enter as reported, James, who hails from Brooklyn, will be a tough challenge for Hochul, the latter of whom campaigned as a centrist but has moved left in a bid to win over progressives in New York City.
Meanwhile, James, who initially won office in her first run for NYC City Council as a candidate for the far-left Working Families Party, will have a tough time wooing Democrats in upstate New York who trend more conservative.
Earlier this year, James’ office launched a criminal probe into multiple allegations of sexual misconduct leveled against Cuomo by several women. But despite credible accusations of illicit behavior, James elected in early August not to file any charges.
“Our work is concluded and the document is now public,” she said during a press conference. “And the matter is civil in nature and does not have any criminal consequences.”
“We were tasked with the responsibility of engaging in an investigation. And we have concluded our investigation. And our work is done,” she continued. “And so as it relates to next steps, that’s entirely up to the governor and or the assembly and the general public. But the work of the office of the Attorney General and these special deputies has concluded.”
At an earlier press conference, James stated clearly that Cuomo’s actions were violations of both state and federal law.
“The independent investigation has concluded that Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually arrested multiple women and violated federal and state law,” James said earlier.
“The investigation found that Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed current and former New York state employees by engaging in unwelcome and non-consensual touching and making numerous offensive comments of a suggestive and sexual nature that created a hostile work environment for women,” she added.
Also, the 168-page report released by James’s office said plainly that the then-governor’s actions towards at least five women “individually and collectively constitute unlawful sexual harassment.”
At the time the investigation was launched, there was some speculation that James was angling to push Cuomo aside so she would have a clearer path to the governor’s mansion. Cuomo and his surrogates subsequently blasted the report as a hit job.
James has developed a reputation in recent months of targeting former President Donald Trump and his Trump Organization, alleging violations of law involving payouts and taxes. In addition, she has taken on the National Rifle Association, accusing the gun-rights and education organization of financial mismanagement.
Those actions have led to widespread criticism from conservatives that she is using her office to target political opponents.
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