WASHINGTON — New York Attorney General Letitia James announced Thursday that she is dropping out of the governor's race and will instead run for re-election.
“I have come to the conclusion that I must continue my work as attorney general. 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,” James said in a statement.
The announcement was unexpected, especially since she had only announced her candidacy several weeks ago.
James, the state's first Black and first female attorney general, would have challenged New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, the state’s first female governor, for the job. Hochul was sworn in as governor in late August after the resignation of embattled Gov. Andrew Cuomo who was accused of sexually harassing nearly a dozen women. Those allegations were detailed in a report prepared by James’ office.
Cuomo has denied the allegations and his spokesman, Rich Azzopardi, has repeatedly referred to James’ report as a “politically motivated sham."
Among the investigations James’ office has ongoing is a civil tax fraud probe into the Trump Organization. A source told NBC News on Thursday that James is seeking to depose former President Donald Trump next month.
An October Siena College poll saw Hochul leading the pack of likely gubernatorial candidates with 31 percent of Democrats saying they'd vote for her and only 14 percent saying they would back James.
Hochul told reporters in New York City that James called to tell her about her decision on Thursday morning, and that she'd thanked the A.G. "for her leadership." Hochul said she supports James' bid for reelection. "I look forward to having her on the ticket as we head into the November election together," Hochul said.
James has not yet made an endorsement in the governor's race.
Now that James has dropped out of the governor’s race, the other contenders seeking to challenge Hochul in the Democratic primary include Rep. Tom Suozzi, who represents a congressional district on Long Island, and New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also appears poised to throw his hat in the ring.
James’ decision to run for re-election comes after several Democrats have announced their 2022 campaigns for attorney general. They include attorney Daniel Goldman, who served as a lead counsel in the House for Trump's first impeachment inquiry; Fordham University law professor Zephr Teachout; and state assemblyman Clyde Vanel.
State senator Shelley Mayer had also been in the running for AG but dropped out Thursday following James' announcement.