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'Proud Brooklynite' Attorney General Letitia James Announces Run for Governor

But she is already facing criticism for running after her investigation into sexual harrassment allegations against former Governor Andrew Cuomo led to his resignation
Attorney General Letitia James. Photo: Matt Cohen/Flickr

New York State Attorney General and Fort Greene resident Letitia James has officially announced her run for New York governor, saying on Twitter that she is running because she has "the experience, vision, and courage to take on the powerful on behalf of all New Yorkers."

If elected, James would become the first Black woman governor in United States history. 

Currently, she serves at the New York attorney general and was the first woman elected to the role in New York and the first woman of color to hold statewide elected office.

In a press release announcing her run, James said New Yorkers needed a governor who wasn’t afraid to stand up to powerful interests on behalf of the vulnerable, adding that she had done so throughout her career by taking on big forces and New Yorkers who don’t back down.

“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,” she said.

“Today, I am proud to announce my candidacy for governor of New York so we can bring transformational change that uplifts all New Yorkers.”

The 63-year-old Working Families Party member will be running against current Governor Kathy Hochul, who previously served as Andrew Cuomo’s assistant governor. Hochul took the gubernatorial position after a sexual harassment scandal saw Cuomo resign from the role.

James, who became attorney general in 2019, would be a more progressive candidate than Hochul and has frequently made headlines for taking on former President Donald Trump, the NRA and the Republican administration.

In 2020, Cuomo authorized James in her role as attorney general to investigate allegations he had sexually harassed several women. The independent investigation found 11 women made credible accusations against the former governor.

However, Cuomo and his allies have said the report was unfair and have repeatedly claimed James was politicking to get closer to the governor spot, something James denies saying Cuomo had “never taken responsibility for his own conduct,” NBC reports.

“Mr. Cuomo has a lot to say on these matters, but he’s never taken responsibility for his own conduct. He’s never held himself accountable for how his behavior affected our state government,” James said.

However, now she has confirmed her run for governor, a number of people are questioning her motives in the investigation â€" or at least the optics in her run after Cuomo's essential ouster.

Journalist and author of "Securing Democracy" Glenn Greenwald wrote on Twitter that the announcement looked "sketchy in the extreme" while former New York Times journalist Clyde Haberman said James should sit out this year's race.

Meanwhile, others jumped into the conversation to congratulate James and express excitement for the candidate's historic run.

The Brooklyn Democratic Party welcomed the news, saying James "is a great addition to the diverse field of very accomplished Democratic candidates vying to serve our state."

Brooklyn party leader Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn said in a statement that New York State just welcomed its first female governor Kathy Hochul and "now we have the prospect of welcoming the first Black woman governor in the nation Tish James."

"Brooklyn will at last be able to elect a Governor that will empower and uplift all Brooklynites."

James is just the second confirmed candidate in what will no doubt be a competitive race. Already, New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio have hinted that they are considering a run for the top job.

Before becoming attorney general, James was New York City’s public advocate, a member of City Council, and a public defender and an assistant state attorney general.  She graduated from Lehman College in the Bronx and earned her law degree from Howard University in Washington, The Associated Press reports.

The primary election for New York State Governor is in June 2022, and the general election is in November 2022.