New York attorney general race: Letitia James, Keith Wofford, more candidates

Democratic candidate Letitia James and Republican candidate Keith Wofford are vying to become the next New York attorney general. / Chris Ware; Randy Monceaux

Letitia James, New York City’s public advocate, won the Democratic primary for New York attorney general in Thursday's election, beating out Leecia Eve, Sean Patrick Maloney and Zephyr Teachout.

James is now going up against Republican Keith Wofford, as well as a few third party candidates, in the general election set to take place Nov. 6.

James ran her campaign on a pledge to fight President Donald Trump and his administration’s policies.


Both James and Wofford have vowed to tackle malfeasance in Albany, following the corruption convictions of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former Republican Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Joseph Percoco, a former top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo. As the state’s top lawyer, the attorney general oversees hundreds of cases and acts as the public face of the office.

Former Attorney General Eric Schneiderman abruptly left the position in May after The New Yorker published an article quoting women accusing him of physical assault. Acting Attorney General Barbara Underwood, who is the first woman to hold the position, is not running.

Scroll down to meet the candidates.

Letitia “Tish” James

James has been the public advocate of New York City since 2014 and is the first woman of color to hold the office. Before becoming public advocate, she was a city council member, an assistant attorney general and a public defender.

As public advocate, James has consistently fought for tenants’ rights, and last year she introduced the legislation that bans questions about salary history in the city.

James has received the backing of Cuomo and was nominated to be the Democratic candidate at the party’s state convention.


While fighting Trump and his “abuses against immigrants, against women, against our environment” is a focus of her campaign, during a debate with the other Democratic candidates, James said, “The next attorney general needs to be more than a one-trick pony” and must focus on several issues, including the affordable housing crisis and lead poisoning in parts of the state.

Keith Wofford

Wofford is a partner at Ropes & Gray, an international law firm, whose clients include a variety of businesses. He is currently on a leave of absence for the campaign.

Wofford was nominated by the GOP at its convention in May, and in his acceptance speech, he criticized Schneiderman, who resigned earlier that month, for his “progressive crusade” and vowed not to intimidate businesses into settlements, which he said past attorneys general have done.

Following James' win in the primary, Wofford billed himself as the “independent political outsider” in the race. 

“New Yorkers have a simple choice. Whether to elect another career politician, who will uphold the corrupt status-quo — OR choose an independent outsider, who will do what’s in the best interests of this State,” he said in a statement.

If elected, Wofford has pledged to launch an investigation into "systemic corruption" involving state and local officials without waiting for approval from the governor or state Legislature, citing the common law legal doctrine of parens patriae.


“Parens patriae both obligates and authorizes the attorney general to pursue both illegal and legal corruption wherever it occurs, from the state capitol to any of its municipalities," Wofford said.

Third party candidates:

There are also a handful of third party candidates who have filed with the Board of Elections, including Michael Sussman, who is running as a Green Party candidate, and Christopher Garvey, running as a Libertarian.