It’s official: Former Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, widely touted as a possible candidate for state attorney general after Eric T. Schneiderman’s resignation this spring, has decided to not seek the post.
“Politics is not my cup of tea,” said Bharara, a former chief counsel to . Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who was fired as the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan by President Donald Trump. Bharara made his comments late last week on his “Stay Tuned With Preet” podcast.
“I think it’s an important job … but for a variety of reasons, as many may have guessed, [because of] the difficulty of running for office in a way that would be comfortable …I am not throwing my hat into the ring,” Bharara explained “ . . . I’m not running for attorney general.”
Bharara, whose high-profile on public corruption and prison and housing litigation made him a familiar figure to New Yorkers during his eight-year run as U.S. Attorney, had previously kept the door open to a run after Schneiderman’s resignation, saying in May: “It’s an important job, so we’ll see.”
Speculation about a possible independent campaign was fueled when he registered to vote in Westchester County, and news reports indicated Bharara — who has used his podcast to criticize Trump — was being encouraged by insiders to seek the post as a platform to take on the president in court.
But Bharara had long expressed a distaste for politics, and his decision not to run became a foregone conclusion when he didn’t file a required candidate financial disclosure form earlier this month. He did say in his Thursday podcast that he would, in the future, consider other roles in public service.
Schneiderman resigned in disgrace after published reports that he had abused women he dated surfaced. The State Legislature appointed Barbara Underwood as attorney general in May. Her term will expire Dec. 31.
The field of candidates for the Democratic nomination includes Fordham law professor Zephyr Teachout, New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-Cold Spring) and former Hillary Clinton aide Leecia Eve.
The winner of the September Democratic primary will face Republican nominee Keith Wofford and Michael Sussman of the liberal Green Party in November.