How Letitia James Won The Democratic Primary For NY Attorney General

Avatar
Written by Ann Brown

 

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.

Letitia James
Letitia James delivers a victory speech after winning the primary election for attorney general Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018, in New York. The 59-year-old was an early favorite in the race after getting endorsements from Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other top Democrats. (AP Photo/Kevin Hagen)

 

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.