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New York’s attorney general said to be planning run for governor

New York Attorney General Letitia James, seen here during a press conference on May 21, is said to be planning a run for governor. | Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

New York Attorney General Letitia James is planning to announce a campaign for governor in coming days, a move that would pit her against incumbent Gov. Kathy Hochul in a high-profile Democratic primary in 2022, according to five people familiar with her plans.

James could announce her plans as early as Thursday, one of the people said. Three others said she would declare before a major political event that starts next Wednesday. An announcement would put an end to months of speculation about her political ambitions.

In a statement, a senior adviser to James’ campaign team said the attorney general would announce her decision on the race in the coming days.

“Attorney General Letitia James has made a decision regarding the governor’s race,” the adviser, Kimberly Peeler-Allen, said on Wednesday. “She will be announcing it in the coming days.”

The New York Times and NY1 were the first to report the news.

James has widely been regarded as one of the strongest potential challengers to Hochul, who announced in August that she would seek reelection after assuming the governorship following Andrew Cuomo’s resignation.

James, whose elaborate investigation of Cuomo’s alleged sexual misconduct led to his departure, is the only Democrat to officially declare a run against Hochul so far. New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams has filed paperwork and launched an “exploratory committee.” Outgoing New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi have also signaled interest in what is likely to be a crowded primary next summer.

James had fended off questions about a run for months, saying that she was still “considering” where she could make the greatest impact in New York and that her plans for 2022 would be “entirely up to the people.” Much of her indecision has centered around the risks, according to two individuals close to her; she would need to forgo reelection campaign for attorney general if she were to run for governor, and initial polling has indicated Hochul has an upper hand.

Still, James could shore up her support from labor and the downstate progressive movement, which she developed during her years as a City Council member and as New York City’s public advocate. And her story — a woman of color who has challenged Donald Trump, the National Rifle Association and Cuomo — makes for a compelling narrative, noted two sources in the state Legislature.

A recent Siena poll found Hochul with a healthy lead (39 percent) in a hypothetical four-way primary that included James (20 percent), de Blasio (10 percent), and Williams (8 percent). Hochul outpolled James 47 percent to 31 percent in a one-on-one matchup, but pollsters warn that the results can’t be taken too seriously until the entire field is solidified.

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