Letitia James has dropped out of the New York governor’s race, just over a month after launching her campaign. The New York Times suggests her decision might have had something to do with low polling numbers, though in a tweet, James — currently the state’s attorney general — explained that, rather than running for governor, she will be running for reelection as AG. “There are a number of important investigations and cases that are underway,” she said. “I intend to finish the job.”
James announced her gubernatorial bid on October 29, one day after the Albany County sheriff’s office filed a criminal complaint against former governor Andrew Cuomo — a complaint catalyzed by the findings of an investigation into sexual-misconduct allegations against him that James’s office had conducted. Cuomo now faces a criminal charge of forcible touching for allegedly groping a female staffer at the governor’s mansion. Cuomo resigned in August, and Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul took over his position. Hochul seems fairly popular: A Siena College poll published on December 7 gave her an 18-point lead on James in the Democratic primary and a significantly wider margin over New York City public advocate Jumaane Williams (who has declared his bid) and New York City mayor Bill de Blasio (who has not). Whether the polls influenced James’s decision is not clear, but as the Times notes, a number of people reportedly considering a run for what would have been her empty seat have dropped out or decided to back her instead.
When James was elected attorney general in 2018, she became the first woman of color to hold statewide office in New York. As public advocate before that, she was the first woman of color to hold a citywide office. Had she won her gubernatorial bid, she would have been the first Black woman to serve as governor in the entire country.