Letitia James Drops Out of Governor Race

NEW YORK -

New York Attorney General Letitia “Tish” James is suspending her campaign for governor, she announced on Thursday, cementing incumbent Gov. Kathy Hochul as the favorite in the race.

“I have come to the conclusion that I must continue my work as attorney general,” James tweeted Thursday at noon. “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.”

Since launching her gubernatorial campaign in October, James held few campaign events or traveled the state, Politico has reported. Primaries will be held in June, and the election in November.

James’ withdrawal will also benefit Jumaane Williams, who, like James, is a black progressive gubernatorial candidate from Brooklyn. Williams, who currently serves as New York City public advocate, is more left-wing than James, and describes himself as a democratic-socialist.

James had placed second in several recent polls behind Hochul, an upstate moderate and the clear frontrunner in a Democratic primary for governor that also includes moderate downstate U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi. Outgoing New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a progressive, is expected to enter the race as well.

Despite her progressive politics, James had built deep ties to the Orthodox community during her years as a city Councilwoman and public advocate. As attorney general, she has sharply criticized antisemitic hate crimes and filed a lawsuit that forced an Orange County town to change housing policies seen as discriminatory to Orthodox Jewish community.

An Orthodox Jewish political insider told Hamodia on Thursday, “Hochul and James have both been allies to the Orthodox community, and now you will see a swift consolidation of support for Hochul from community leaders and officials. De Blasio’s long friendship with the community has turned sour because of his ultra-progressive policies on crime, and his last-minute vaccine mandate without yeshiva input certainly won’t help. And his popularity level in the state is lower even than Andrew Cuomo’s.

“A ticket of Hochul for governor, [Brian] Benjamin for lieutenant governor, and James for attorney general is inevitable at this point, and it’s a ticket that will be nearly impossible to beat. There is already increasing pressure on other candidates in the attorney general and gubernatorial races to drop out.

“Williams and de Blasio will see [James’ withdrawal] as a boon, but there will be pressure on Suozzi to drop out, so as not to split the moderate voters.”

Shortly after James’ announcement, Hochul picked up the endorsement of  Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, a Brooklyn Assemblywoman and powerful Chair of the Kings County Democratic County Committee. In a statement, Hermelyn said, “I am confident that Hochul will be the best choice to lead our state forward through the recovery, and she will have the support of Brooklyn behind her.”

If she had stayed in the governor’s race and lost, James risked not holding an elected office for the first time since 2004. Now, she is expected to easily win reelection as attorney general. The Democratic primary in that race currently includes law professor Zephyr Teachout; Assemblyman Clyde Vanel; Daniel Goldman, a former assistant U.S. attorney who also served as lead counsel in the first impeachment investigation of Donald Trump; and Maria Vullo, former superintendent of the state Department of Financial Services.

At her own press conference Thursday afternoon, Hochul indicated she and James would support each other’s respective reelection campaigns.

“The attorney general did call me this morning earlier, and she let me know her intention was to remain doing the critically important work that she has undertaken in the Attorney General’s Office,” Hochul said, noting that she and James have a relationship that has been “always very cordial, always respectful to each other.

“I look forward to having her on the ticket as we head into the November election together,” Hochul said. “This is a very bad day for Donald Trump and the NRA,” referring to two high-profile targets of legal action by James.

On Thursday morning, The Washington Post reported that James is seeking to depose Trump as part of a civil investigation into whether Trump’s company committed financial fraud.

smarcus@hamodia.com

rborchardt@hamodia.com


Updated Thursday, December 9, 2021 at 3:37 pm .