Letitia James just won the Democratic Primary for New York Attorney General and may be on the verge of becoming the first Black woman to hold statewide office in New York history if she wins the November general election.
A New York City public advocate, James has promised to reform New York’s criminal justice system and investigate and prosecute President Donald Trump’s family businesses.
James, 59, won with more than 40 percent of the vote, according to the Associated Press.
She could make history on several fronts if elected in November including being the first woman elected as the state’s top legal official.
“This race is really about protecting women, protecting immigrants, protecting seniors, protecting members of the LGBTQ communities, and all of those who have been voiceless and powerless at this critical point in our nation’s history,” James told supporters after the results were announced.
This was an exciting race by all accounts. It started in May when former Attorney General Eric Schneiderman resigned due to allegations he physically abused women. He denied the allegations. Following Schneiderman’s resignation, James and three other Democrats joined the race for his spot — Verizon executive Leecia Eve; Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, who represents parts of the Hudson Valley; and Fordham University law professor Zephyr Teachout.
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Initially, James was seen as the frontrunner, although her establishment backing becomes a liability, with other candidates accusing her of lacking independence and being cozy with Albany, the Wall Street Journal reported. James had the backing of the state Democratic Party and Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
In the general election on Nov. 6, James will face Republican candidate Keith Wofford, a lawyer at the firm Ropes & Gray LLP.
This will be a vital election. The office also has wide-ranging power to take legal action to protect consumers, civil rights, the environment and nonprofits. Under an unusual state law known as the Martin Act, the office has broad authority to investigate financial crimes, the Wall Street Journal reported.
James is the current New York City public aAdvocate and first Black woman to hold citywide office. Prior to this, she served as a member of the New York City Council, representing Brooklyn’s 35th Council District, which includes the neighborhoods of Clinton Hill, Fort Greene, parts of Crown Heights, Prospect Heights, and Bedford-Stuyvesant.
Earlier in her career, James served as a public defender for the Legal Aid Society and established the Urban Network, a coalition of African-American professional organizations that provides scholarships for young people. She also worked on former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo’s Task Force on Diversity in the Judiciary.
BREAKING: Letitia James has won the Democratic primary for NY attorney general. If elected in November, she’ll be the first Black attorney general in NY history. She has promised to reform NY’s criminal justice system and to investigate and prosecute Trump’s family businesses. pic.twitter.com/LHUkQubf33
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) September 14, 2018
There’s so much news going on out there (eyes on Florence) but the Tish James primary win in NY is significant, and not just for the history she’d make. The NY AG has a big role on everything from regulating Wall Street to scrutinizing Trump businesses. https://t.co/9xPwhSmWNz
— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) September 14, 2018