State Attorney General Letitia James has dropped out of the governor’s race Thursday, Dec. 9, in a surprise move that came just a little over a month since she officially launched her bid for the state’s top office.
In a statement, the state’s top prosecutor said she will run for re-election next year in order to continue several important investigations.
“I have come to the conclusion that I must continue my work as attorney general,” James said. “There are a number of important investigations and cases that are underway, and I intend to finish the job. I am running for re-election to complete the work New Yorkers elected me to do.”
The announcement came after the Washington Post reported that James plans to subpoena former President Donald Trump in a civil fraud investigation into business practices.
A James spokesperson declined to comment on those reports.
Less than an hour after James’s announcement, influential Brooklyn Assembly Member and boss of the Brooklyn Democratic Party Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn endorsed Hochul, adding that she called James in the morning.
“I called AG Tish James this morning and commended her for her trailblazing work as our state’s Attorney General,” Bichotte Hermelyn said in a statement. “Tish is a force, righting wrongs and fighting for everyday New Yorkers, and I know she will continue to stand up to injustices. Her work is a service to our state.”
James had been vying for the powerful Democrat’s backing to help secure support from vote-heavy Brooklyn, where she also got her start as a council member.
James launched her campaign for governor less than six weeks ago on Oct. 29 and was the leading contender against incumbent Kathy Hochul in a field for the Democratic nomination that also includes Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and Long Island Rep. Tom Suozzi.
James called the governor her about the decision Thursday morning, Hochul said, praising the attorney general for her work and throwing her support behind her candidacy to remain AG.
“The attorney general did call me this morning earlier and she let me know her intention was to remain doing the critically-important work that she has undertaken in the attorney general’s office,” said Hochul during a COVID-19 briefing Thursday afternoon. “I respect her tremendously, always have, that has never been not the case and we are going to do great things and I look forward to having her on the ticket as we head into the November election together.”
Williams praised James as a trailblazing politician for being the first woman of color to hold statewide office and indicated he will stay in the race.
“I’m grateful for our collaboration, and I’m glad to be able to continue that work together to bring bold, progressive, transformational change on behalf of the people of New York,” Williams said in a statement.
Mayor Bill de Blasio is also expected to throw his hat in the ring.
Hochul consistently gained the most support in recent polls, such as a Tuesday Siena College Poll that found 36% of Democrats said they would vote for her, double the 18% that James got.
James’s decision to run to keep her current seat disrupts an already crowded field of candidates vying to replace her as AG.