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AG Letitia James expected to announce run for governor

State Attorney General Letitia James outside the Touro

State Attorney General Letitia James outside the Touro Law Center on June 29. Credit: James Carbone

ALBANY — Attorney General Letitia James has told people she is likely to run for governor with an announcement coming very soon, two sources said Wednesday

The sources said James, a Democrat, called major labor unions in the state to inform them she intends to run for governor. She would enter the race as a formidable candidate for the party nomination just two months after issuing a bombshell sexual harassment report that triggered the resignation ex-Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

Her entry would set up a major primary battle between James, 62, of Brooklyn, and Gov. Kathy Hochul, a 63-year-old Buffalo Democrat who took office in August after Cuomo left, becoming New York’s first woman governor.

"Attorney General Letitia James has made a decision regarding the governor’s race," said Kimberly Peeler-Allen, a James campaign adviser, in a statement. "She will be announcing it in the coming days."

A James spokeswoman didn’t return follow-up calls. Another source suggested James still could announce she’s running for reelection, rather than taking on Hochul.

But Assemb. Rodneyse Bichotte (D-Brooklyn), a key James ally, acknowledged James’ potential candidacy in a statement.

"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," said Bichotte, who doubles as Brooklyn’s Democratic chairwoman. "Tish’s strong track record of standing up for marginalized communities and against the Trump and Cuomo administrations, alongside her two decades of experience in public service, also makes her an excellent gubernatorial candidate."

Hochul has said she’d run for reelection in 2022, began vigorously raising campaign money and scored a number of endorsements – including from Jay Jacobs, the state and Nassau County Democratic chairman.

Still, James’ potential entry into the race has been a major question hovering over the 2022 election, analysts have said, with it determining who else might run and how. It also would be a test for unions and progressive groups. James would be considered a formidable candidate after raising her profile in battling Cuomo and Donald Trump, over the former president’s taxes and business affairs.

She has been holding high-end campaign events -- $25,000 as a top ticket – and hiring a fund-raiser with a national profile, fueling speculation she might seek the governor’s office.

Many Democratic insiders have been expecting the attorney general to announce a decision before next week’s Somos El Futuro conference, the annual political gathering of New York Latino leaders held in Puerto Rico.

"No one has told me she’s definitively running (for governor) but they’ve implied it," said a union leader who wished to remain anonymous.

"Certainly everyone has a right to choose to primary," said Jacobs, who this fall urged other Democrats to refrain from challenging Hochul and instead rally behind the new governor. "I’m just hopeful the party comes out of it strong."

Other Democrats weighing runs included Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.

Williams last week filed paperwork to create a gubernatorial campaign committee, according to New York State Board of Elections records. He recently told a TV station he expected to make a decision on running within days.

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