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Tish James drops bid for governor, will seek reelection as NY AG

New York State Attorney General Leticia James, wearing a light gray suit, standing at a microphone
New York NOW

New York Attorney General Letitia James is ending her campaign for governor, she said in a statement Thursday, bringing the number of declared candidates in the Democratic primary down to three.

James was Hochul’s closest competitor, according to recent polling, shifting a significant number of Democratic votes to any of the three remaining candidates.

In a statement, James said she would instead seek reelection as New York Attorney General, a position she was first elected to in 2018.

“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,” James said. “I am running for re-election to complete the work New Yorkers elected me to do."

It's unclear why James decided to end her campaign for governor less than two months after she announced.

A poll from Siena College this week showed her with support from 18% of Democrats in a four-way Democratic primary for governor between her, Hochul, New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, and Rep. Tom Suozzi. Hochul, meanwhile, had support from 36% of Democrats polled for the survey.

Suozzi, the latest declared candidate in the Democratic primary, said he understood James' decision in a tweet Thursday.

"I offer my best wishes to Attorney Gen @TishJames as she continues to pursue her deep calling to public service. She has tremendous responsibilities as the sitting AG & I understand her desire to devote her energies to seeing through & continuing the important matters before her," Suozzi tweeted.

James had been rumored to be interested in the governorship for months, but those talks escalated in August after her office released a lengthy report on several claims of sexual harassment made against former Gov. Andrew Cuomo. That report, which found the claims to be credible, ultimately led to Cuomo's resignation days later. Cuomo has denied the claims.

James, herself, has had a meteoric rise in state politics and government in New York. After serving on the New York City Council, she was elected as the New York City Public Advocate in 2013, and left that job after she was elected attorney general in 2018.

Now that she's reentered the race for attorney general, she'll face several challengers in the Democratic primary that thought she was out of the race.

So far, constitutional lawyer Zephyr Teachout, Assm. Clyde Vanel, attorney Dan Goldman, and former state Department of Financial Services Superintendent Maria Vullo have each declared their candidacy. State Sen. Shelley Mayer, who had also announced a run, decided to drop out of the race Thursday and put her support behind James.

It's unclear if those candidates will remain in the race. The primary election will be held in June.