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Attorney General James Drops Out Of Governor's Race, Citing Unfinished Business

New York State Attorney General's Office

New York Attorney General Letitia James says she’s dropping out of the 2022 race for governor, saying she still has work to do on investigations that includes probes into former President Donald Trump’s business dealings and the National Rifle Association.

James joined the race in November, following the issuance of two key reports earlier this year that led to the resignation of former Governor Andrew Cuomo. James found that Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women, and that he and his top aides undercounted by 50% the number of deaths at nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, James says she’s decided that her work as attorney general is not done, and she will seek another term as AG instead.

“There are a number of important investigations and cases that are underway, and I intend to finish the job”, she said in a statement.

In a poll released Tuesday, James trailed frontrunner Kathy Hochul, who ascended from her job as the state’s lieutenant governor to replace Cuomo. In the Siena college poll Hochul is supported by twice as many registered democrats as James, at 36% to 18%.

Hochul says she respects James tremendously, and is looking forward to appearing with her on the statewide ticket.

“This is a very bad day for Donald Trump and the NRA,” said Hochul.

Hochul still faces a challenge Long Island Congressman Tom Suozzi who announced a series of statewide tele-town meetings in the coming weeks. New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams is also a candidate, and New York City Mayor Bill deBlasio has expressed interest in getting in to the race.

The governor says she is running her campaign as an underdog, and taking nothing for granted. She says she sees “warning signs” in the 2021 republican wins in the governorship of Virginia, the close race in New Jersey where Governor Phil Murphy narrowly won re election, and GOP victories on Long Island.

“I have been heeding that warning,” Hochul said. “As leader of the New York State Democratic Party, it is also on my shoulders to pull it together and have unity in our party. Because we have to make sure that the republicans do not get a foothold anywhere.”

Hochul says that includes fighting for democrats to hold seats in the state Senate, Assembly and Congress.

James’ decision to seek re election to her current job shakes up the 2022 Attorney General’s race. Several candidates had already announced that they were running in the June primary, anticipating an open seat. They include Fordham Law School professor and activist Zephyr Teachout, and former Superintendent of the New York State Department of Financial Services Maria Vullo.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990. She is also a regular contributor to the statewide public television program about New York State government, New York Now. She appears on the reporter’s roundtable segment and interviews newsmakers. Karen previously worked for WINS Radio, New York, and has written for numerous publications, including Adirondack Life and the Albany newsweekly Metroland.