“I have come to the conclusion that I must continue my work as attorney general,” James said in a statement Thursday. “There are a number of important investigations and cases underway, and I intend to finish the job.”
Cuomo and his team have spent the past few months arguing, without any clear evidence, that James’s investigation was politically motivated and had sought to undermine the allegations against the former governor by pointing to James’s own political ambitions.
After launching his campaign, James had surprised New York politicians by showing up sporadically on the road. She had been critical of Hochul’s response to the recent rise of Covid-19 in the state, advocating for a statewide mask mandate, but offered little else in terms of specific policies. His campaign website, which had deactivated his connection to ActBlue, the fundraising channel, by noon Thursday, contained only a snippet of his initial announcement.
Despite the rumors, his decision took operatives and allies by surprise. James’ campaign was in contact with outside firms until Thursday, a familiar source told CNN.
James, seeking a second term as the state’s top law enforcement officer, has also turned the state attorney general’s primaries upside down, which includes law professor and anti-corruption advocate Zephyr Teachout, a progressive front-runner who also ran. in 2018, and Daniel Goldman, a former federal prosecutor who served as an attorney for House Democrats during their first impeachment inquiry against former President Donald Trump.
But the campaign arm of the Democratic state attorneys general was quick to back James after she announced her re-election plans.
“The Democratic Attorneys General Association is proud to support AG James for re-election as Attorney General,” said DAGA Communications Director Geoff Burgan. “She is a proven leader in the battle who has fought for consumers, workers and those in need, and we are excited that she is continuing her work as the Attorney General of New York.”
James, now almost in his third year in office, has been at the forefront of several high-profile investigations.
James is separately investigating whether Cuomo used public resources to write and promote his book on the Covid-19 pandemic.
James was first elected New York attorney general in 2018, the first black person and woman to win state office.
James, a native of Brooklyn, was a former public defender and also worked in the Brooklyn regional office of the New York State attorney general’s office. He won his first election to the New York City council in 2003 and served 10 years there. She also served two seasons as a New York City public defender, first elected to the position in 2013.
In New York, James’ decision to retire before the turn of the year will be a boost for New York City public defender Jumaane Williams, who could see progressive voters, especially in the city, turn to her campaign. It could also potentially open up some space for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has scoffed at a career of his own, as progressive lawmakers and left-wing unions backing James will now have to reconsider their options.
But the biggest beneficiary appears, for now, to be Hochul, who had already established a healthy lead in the contest’s public polls and has a significant fundraising lead over the field, which also includes moderate New York Rep. Tom Suozzi. .
The next gubernatorial election in New York will be held in November 2022, and the Democratic primary is scheduled for next June.
This story has been updated with additional details.