New York Attorney General Letitia James announced Friday she is running for governor, setting up a primary battle with Gov. Kathy Hochul, who took over the governorship following the resignation of Andrew Cuomo over the summer.
In a video released Friday, James highlighted her office’s lawsuits against former President Donald Trump, the National Rifle Association (NRA), and her investigation into deaths in New York state nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As I’ve traveled all around New York state, I have witnessed too many working families struggling to make ends meet, and it’s clear that the status quo just won’t do,” James, a Democrat, said in a statement. “New Yorkers need a governor who isn’t afraid to stand up to powerful interests on behalf of the vulnerable.”
James, 63, then argued that she deserves the governorship as she’s “taken on big forces and New Yorkers know I will never back down when it comes to fighting for them,” adding, “Today, I am proud to announce my candidacy for governor of New York so we can bring transformational change that uplifts all New Yorkers.”
Before she was elected as attorney general, James represented Brooklyn’s 35th Council District in the New York City Council for about a decade before she was elected New York City’s public advocate.
Months before he stepped down, then-Gov. Cuomo authorized James to look into claims that he had sexually harassed several women, namely staffers who had worked for him. Independent investigators she had hired then released a report in August 2021 that said there were credible allegations against Cuomo, although she didn’t file any charges against him.
Cuomo, who now faces a criminal complaint for alleged forcible touching, panned James’ report as biased and inaccurate, stressing that he stepped down because he doesn’t want to throw New York’s government into a state of chaos. But in public comment, James dismissed Cuomo’s assertions and said the former governor needs to take responsibility for his own actions.
Rita Glavin, a Cuomo attorney, told news outlets on Thursday that the former governor never assaulted anyone. Cuomo is slated to appear in court on Nov. 17 over the complaint.
And last year, James filed a lawsuit against the NRA over allegations that top executives engaged in “diversion of millions of dollars away from the charitable mission of the organization for personal use by senior leadership,” among other claims. The NRA in early 2021 announced it would leave New York state for Texas.
Other than James and Hochul, New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, both Democrats, have publicly suggested they would run for governor. Hochul announced her intention to run for governor in mid-August before she was sworn in as governor.