New York Justice Minister Letitia James plans to announce a campaign for governor in the coming days, a move that would set her up against incumbent Gov. Kathy Hochul in a high-profile Democratic primary in 2022, according to five people familiar with her plans.
James could announce his plans as early as Thursday, one of the people said. Three others said she would declare before a major political event starting next Wednesday. A statement would put an end to months of speculation about her political ambitions.
In a statement, a senior adviser to James’ campaign team said the Attorney General would announce her decision on the race in the coming days.
“Attorney General Letitia James has made a decision regarding the governor’s race,” adviser Kimberly Peeler-Allen said Wednesday. “She will announce it in the coming days.”
James has been widely regarded as one of the strongest potential challengers to Hochul, who announced in August that she would seek re-election after taking over the post of governor after Andrew Cuomo’s resignation.
James, whose detailed investigation into Cuomo’s alleged sexual misconduct led to his resignation, is the only Democrat to have officially stated that he has so far opposed Hochul. New York City Public Prosecutor Jumaane Williams has submitted papers and launched a “committee of inquiry.” The outgoing mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, and the U.S. rep. Tom Suozzi has also signaled interest in what is likely to be a crowded primary next summer.
James had averted questions about a run for several months, saying she was still “considering” where she could make the most impact in New York, and that her plans for 2022 would be “all the way up to the people.” Much of her indecision has centered on the risks, according to two people close to her; she would have to give up the re-election campaign for the justice minister if she were to run for governor, and the first poll has shown that Hochul has an upper hand.
Still, James was able to support her support from the workforce and the downturn’s progressive movement, which she developed during her years as a city council member and as New York City’s public advocate. And her story – a colored woman who has challenged Donald Trump, the National Rifle Association and Cuomo – provides a compelling narrative, two sources in the state legislature noted.
A recent poll from Siena found Hochul with a healthy lead (39 percent) in a hypothetical four-way primary that included James (20 percent), de Blasio (10 percent) and Williams (8 percent). Hochul outscored James 47 percent to 31 percent in a one-on-one matchup, but polls warn that the results cannot be taken too seriously until the entire field has solidified.