New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams has announced an exploratory committee for governor earlier this week, indicating that next year’s Democratic primary may be a fierce competition.
Current governor Kathy Hochul has already announced her intention to run for a full term in 2022, making her the first candidate to do so. Attorney General Letitia James has not made any public decisions yet, but is widely expected to announce her bid, according to the New York Times. James became a prominent figure over the pandemic for releasing bombshell reports alleging deliberate mismanagement of the nursing home crisis and allegations that then-Governor Andrew Cuomo workplace was rife with bullying, which prompted him to resign.
Williams, a prominent progressive and member of the Democratic Socialists of America, previously was a member of the New York City Council. He ran against Hochul for the position of lieutenant governor in 2018, but lost by 6.6 points. Nonetheless, the race successfully boosted his profile to many New Yorkers.
If Williams ran, he would likely position himself as the progressive alternative to Hochul, a centrist Democrat from New York state. Williams has previously made gun control and investments in social programs major parts of his platform. In contrast, Hochul is a moderate Democrat with little ties to the city. She has the advantage of running as an incumbent, and for winning the gratitude of lawmakers and the public for breaking with Cuomo’s competitive, independent style of leadership.
Williams would occupy a similar lane to James, should she chose to run. Both are African-American lawmakers from Brooklyn with significant experience in New York City politics. Both are self-identified progressives, though Williams’ politics lean more to the left than James. James has long-standing ties to New York’s Jewish community from her years representing Brooklyn in the city council.
Williams said that, would he win, he would bring a new style of leadership to Albany, one without “toxicity.” In a jab at Hochul, he suggested she should have pushed back more at Cuomo. “I just imagine if there was a lieutenant governor that pushed back a little bit harder, we may have not been in the situation we’re in,” he said. “There’s more that a lot of people could have done, but I ran very intentionally and specifically in 2018 on that message.”