What a James AG Win Could Mean for Brooklyn Politics

Public advocate Letitia James (in red) raises hands in solidarity with City Council member Laurie Cumbo at Wednesday’s announcement that James was running for state attorney general. (Photo by Kelly Mena via Kings County Politics)

On May 16, Public Advocate Letitia James officially announced her candidacy for state attorney general in the Sept. 13 Democratic primary, the position left vacant after the resignation of Eric Schneiderman. If she wins in the November general election, James would become New York state’s first African American attorney general and the first elected woman.

A James win would also mean a special election would be held to fill the two years left in her second and last term as public advocate, which ends in 2021. Given that Mayor Bill de Blasio occupied the position before becoming mayor, likely mayoral hopeful Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams may have his eye on the seat. And if he wins, “there will very likely be a mad scramble for the borough president’s seat in yet another special election,” writes Stephen Witt in Kings County Politics.

Who are the possible frontrunners for that race? Laurie Cumbo, Robert Cornegy Jr., Rafael Espinal Jr. and Mark Treyger, all current members of the City Council, are potential candidates. Find out why at Kings County Politics.

During her announcement, James touted her experience working for vulnerable communities, reports Gotham Gazette’s Samar Khurshid.

“I was taught at Howard University that the law should be an instrument of change,” James said in humble tones, “that the law must be used as a vehicle to right wrongs.” She pledged to defend the state’s most vulnerable communities, touting her past work as a public defender for the Legal Aid Society and an an assistant attorney general, and her current role heading the office of the public advocate, where she has often used litigation to fight for tenant protections, for children with disabilities, and others, waging high-profile legal battles against the de Blasio administration and against predatory landlords.

The story noted that James is currently the only declared Democratic candidate. While she has strong support in the city, “she will need to expand her reach outside the five boroughs to win statewide, both in the primary and what is likely to be a more competitive general election than she has ever faced in heavily Democratic New York City.” Read more on the campaign kickoff at Gotham Gazette.

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