Letitia James is running for governor of New York

Letitia James, the New York attorney general who oversaw the investigation into the sexual harassment allegations against former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo that ultimately led to his resignation, declared her gubernatorial candidacy on Friday, highlighting place a historic and far-reaching match. in the Democratic primary.

She begins the campaign as Gov. Kathy Hochul’s most formidable challenger, and her announcement sparks the start of what could be an extraordinarily competitive primary – a contest that will be shaped by questions of ideology, race and region in a state still struggling. of the pandemic.

His announcement comes at a volatile moment in state policy, a day after Mr. Cuomo was indicted in a sexual misconduct complaint based on the account of one of the women whose allegations of sexual harassment were detailed in the Attorney General’s report.

This development, Mrs. James said, validated “the conclusions of our report” and, for its allies, this further strengthened the arguments in favor of its leadership. But it also added fresh fuel to Mr Cuomo’s suggestion that his investigation was politically motivated, a message that may resonate with some of the voters who still view him favorably.

“I am running for governor of New York because I have the experience, the vision and the courage to stand up to the powerful on behalf of all New Yorkers,” said Ms. James. wrote on Twitter as she posted her announcement video on Friday.

In the video, a narrator said Ms James was running “for high paying jobs, a health care system that puts people before profits, to protect the environment, to make housing more affordable and to improve our schools in every city. district”. The video did not mention Mr. Cuomo’s name.

Ms. James, a seasoned Brooklyn politician and the first woman of color to be elected to a New York statewide post, seeks to become the country’s first black female governor; Ms. Hochul, who is white, is the state’s first female executive director and the first governor in more than a century to have deep roots in western New York.

The race may have even wider implications as a key barometer of Democratic Party leadership in the Biden era. Ms Hochul, from the Buffalo area, was once known as a more conservative Democrat, but she has increasingly moved to the left.

Ms James, in turn, has many ties to the relatively moderate Democratic establishment, but also has long-standing ties to the left-wing Working Families Party. It is not yet clear what issues she will use to politically differentiate herself from Ms Hochul, but there is clearly the potential for vigorous clashes over how best to move the state and the party forward.

Her announcement came two days after The New York Times and other media reported that she and her team had started briefing key political players on her intentions.

“Since being first elected as a candidate for the Working Families Party nearly 20 years ago, Tish has been a courageous fighter for everyday New Yorkers,” said Sochie Nnaemeka, the State Director of the New York Working Families Party. “We expect Tish to campaign with a clear progressive vision for New York.”

Ms James enters the race with a record that has been acclaimed by many liberals across the state. As attorney general, she made headlines for suing the National Rifle Association, investigating President Donald J. Trump, and chairing the Cuomo Inquiry, which was conducted by outside lawyers.

“I’ve sued the Trump administration 76 times, but who matters? she impassive in the video.

She appeared to make several allusions to Mr. Cuomo. “I have held accountable those who abuse and harass women in the workplace, no matter how powerful the abusers are,” she said at one point.

“I have spent my career guided by one simple principle: standing up to the powerful on behalf of the vulnerable,” she said in another. “To be a force for change. “

Ms James’ allies believe she could form a powerful coalition comprising black voters of various ideological views, a wide range of left-wing voters who have welcomed her inquiries into Mr. Cuomo, domestic donors interested in his historic potential and a base in the most vote-rich part of the state.

She also has close ties with some union leaders; John Samuelsen, International President of the Transport Workers Union, declared minutes after Ms James’ announcement that she “will be a governor that working New Yorkers can trust.” Her union officially endorsed Ms James hours later – the first union endorsement in the gubernatorial race, her campaign noted.

Over the past few weeks, Ms James has decided to put together her political and fundraising teams, and she is starting the contest with important connections with New York City after serving on city council and as a spokesperson. public.

She also spent time traveling around New York City – in an official capacity and for purely political outings – and she and her team surveyed donors, union leaders and elected officials as she made her way to a candidacy. His team began to seek commitments for early approvals that could help him build momentum quickly.

But Ms. Hochul starts the race with her own significant advantages. She ran to cement an overwhelming fundraising advantage; receptive donors are one of the many benefits of tenure.

She is likely to be a very successful performer in the upstate and has spent years building relationships on Long Island. Since becoming governor, she has maintained a hectic public schedule heavily concentrated in the five boroughs, striving to bolster her forces in the upstate and enlisting a lieutenant governor, Brian A. Benjamin, from Harlem.

And she has already gained significant institutional support from groups such as the Democratic Governors Association and Emily’s List, the fundraising powerhouse that supports women candidates who support the right to abortion. It has been approved by county presidents across the state, the Democratic state president, and the chair of the NAACP New York State Conference.

Many New Yorkers approve of the way she has handled the transition after a decade of Mr. Cuomo’s iron-fisted rule and seem inclined to give him more time to acclimatize to the job – while some Democrats would prefer that Ms. James remains Attorney General. see through existing cases, including one involving Mr. Trump and his business connections.

Ms Hochul and Ms James are unlikely to be the only nomination contestants, and there is a real possibility of the kind of messy and cluttered primary that some party leaders, wary of Democratic internal struggles, had hoped to avoid.

Two of Ms James’ Brooklyn comrades, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Jumaane D. Williams, the public attorney, are both taking steps to campaign for the governor and could be part of her coalition in New York.

Representative Thomas Suozzi, who represents Long Island and part of Queens, is also considering a race. Unlike other possible suitors, he is said to be looking to outsmart Ms Hochul as a moderate option in the race as she strives to build her strength in Nassau and Suffolk counties. Steven Bellone, the Suffolk County executive, is also considering a campaign.

But for months, whether Ms James would show up was the defining question of the fledgling primary competition, with some allies describing her as deliberative, and others increasingly eager to learn of her decision as others. aspects of the race were concentrating.

His response goes a long way to cementing the contours of the field.

Now, perhaps the biggest unknown is how Mr. Cuomo can seek to get involved in the race. The former governor, who since the last statements has continued to hold onto a large war chest, and his team have repeatedly sought to question Ms James’ integrity, attacking her in emails and letters sent to supporters of old.

“The fact that the Attorney General – as expected – is about to announce a gubernatorial candidacy is not lost on anyone,” Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi said Thursday in response to the statement. complaint.

Ms James, for her part, joined in with those efforts during a recent speech in New York City as she defended her work.

“No one is above the law,” she said. “Our state can do better.


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