(Updates with comment from Schneiderman campaign)
ALBANY — In a rare pledge by a politician, Republican candidate for attorney general John Cahill said that if he wins the job in November, he won't later seek higher office.
Cahill quotes former Democratic Gov. and Attorney General Eliot Spitzer as saying “A.G.,” the common abbreviation for attorney general, also means “aspiring governor.”
Cahill is fighting for name recognition against Democratic Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman. Cahill’s pledge could serve to box Schneiderman into a promise that few politicians would make, even when they have no higher aspirations.
“Eric Schneiderman’s blind ambition to be the next governor has compromised the Office of the Attorney General,” Cahill said Wednesday. “That’s why I am pledging to New Yorkers that, if elected, I will not seek higher office. My only ambition will be to pursue justice and opportunity for New Yorkers."
Schneiderman, who served more than a decade in the State Senate before winning his term as attorney general in 2010, hasn’t said he intends to seek higher office.
Schneiderman campaign spokesman Peter Ajemian wouldn't say if the attorney general would also pledge not to seek higher office. Ajemian called Cahill's statement a public relations stunt to avoid important issues.
"Attorney General Schneiderman is focused on providing bulletproof vests for cops, equipping SUNY police throughout the state with heroin overdose prevention kits, cracking down on racial profiling and taking on big banks to protect homeowners,” Ajemian said.
Cahill criticizes Schneiderman for his refusal to comment on his role in deputizing members of the Moreland Commission on public corruption. The panel’s work and its abrupt shutdown by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is being investigated by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. Schneidmeran and Cuomo said they won’t comment on the Moreland case so that they don’t interfere with the probe.
Nationally, attorney generals have won higher office in many states in the past decade, including U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who served five terms as Connecticut’s attorney general.
The “aspiring governor” question was posed in a 2006 televised debate for New York attorney general to mixed results from the candidates. Then-candidate Cuomo said he didn’t plan to run for governor, four years after he had lost his first bid, which drew some chuckles in the audience.