New York City Public Advocate Tish James has emerged from a crowded field to win the Democratic primary for state attorney general, CNN projects, putting her on a path to taking over one of the country’s most powerful law enforcement offices.
If she wins in November, James will become the first black woman elected win statewide office in New York. The former city council member was endorsed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and reaped the benefits of the backing of the state Democratic establishment, but is also likely to appear on the progressive Working Families Party ballot line this fall.
A former public defender and city council member, James outlasted anti-corruption activist and scholar Zephyr Teachout, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney and Leecia Eve, a Verizon lobbyist.
She will face Republican Keith Wofford, a Buffalo native, in a general election contest to replace Barbara Underwood, who was appointed to the job by the state legislature following the resignation of Eric Schneiderman, who departed in May after four women accused him of assault in an explosive report in The New Yorker.
In the Democratic debates, James was critical of the Trump administration, saying that the President has “trampled on the rights of countless individuals throughout the state of New York” while pledging to “challenge the forces-that-be and stand up for marginalize communities” targeted by White House policies.
The New York state attorney general’s office has often been used as a launching pad for ambitious officials. Both of Schneiderman’s predecessors, Eliot Spitzer and Cuomo, won the governorship after running the office. If she wins it in November, James will immediately be thrust into the national spotlight because of Trump’s business ties in New York and the potential to further challenge his administration in court.
James has called the President an “embarrassment to all that we stand for” and suggested in web video that “he should be charged with obstructing justice,” saying she planned to “follow the money because we believe that he is engage in a pattern and practice of money laundering.”
She entered the final days of the campaign in what seemed like a dead heat with Teachout, who was the progressive grassroots favorite, and Maloney, who was stronger with voters outside the city. But she overtook them with a boost from Cuomo’s financial might — his barrage of television commercials touted “Cuomo, Hochul and James” — and the split loyalties of the Working Families Party, which didn’t attack her and instead dedicated its resources hammering Maloney over his support for recent legislation to roll back bank regulations and past votes against a number of Obamacare-related bills.
"There are two incredible progressive women in this race," WFP state director Bill Lipton said of James and Teachout back in May. "New Yorkers would be lucky to have either as our next Attorney General."
New York. Gov. Andrew Cuomo will win the Democratic nomination for a third-term on Thursday night, CNN projects, easily defeating a challenge from his left by progressive activist and actress Cynthia Nixon.
The Empire State primary marked the final opportunity this year for left-wing insurgents to unseat powerful Democratic incumbents. But Cuomo, a battle-tested campaigner with deep pockets, consolidated establishment support in the spring and spent the summer blitzing the airwaves, spending more than $8 million over three weeks late in the contest to head off any momentum growing around Nixon's insurgent bid.
Nixon's decision to run was met with a hard line of resistance from top party officials inside the state and nationally, who backed Cuomo as both a liberal champion and the best positioned candidate to stand as a bulwark against the Trump administration and an increasingly conservative Supreme Court.
Pushing for universal rent control, single-payer health care, new funding for public schools and a large-scale renewal of New York City's broken-down subway system, which is controlled by the state, Nixon spent much of the spring and summer relentlessly attacking Cuomo and his political agenda as insufficiently ambitious for one of the country's bluest states.
"I voted for him eight years ago because I remembered his dad," Nixon said of the governor and his father, the popular late former Gov. Mario Cuomo, at a rally in Brooklyn on Saturday. "And because I believed that he was a Democrat, the way he said he was. But what happened? Since he's taken office, he seems to have forgotten that he's a Democrat. He's governed like a Republican."
The charge was a familiar one among New York progressives, who fault Cuomo for the state's failure to pass its own DREAM Act, legislation to protect abortion rights and serious campaign finance revisions. And while they credit his successful push to legalize same-sex marriage in 2011, years before most other states took the step, his critics also point to it as evidence that he is not committed to delivering on other liberal priorities.
On the trail last weekend, Cuomo veered strategically between listing his achievements and railing against Trump.
"The President says, 'I'm fighting with Gov. Cuomo but it's just Gov. Cuomo that I'm fighting with, just Gov. Cuomo -- everybody else agrees with me,' " Cuomo said at a rally on Long Island, rehashing his recent Twitter dust-up with Trump before framing the ask: "I want you to come out Thursday and vote for me. And I want, when you fill in that little hole there on that little ballot, I want you to be saying, 'No, President Trump, it's not just Andrew who disagrees with you. Every decent New Yorker disagrees with you.' "
Cuomo will face Republican Marc Molinaro in the November general election.
The polls in New York's primary closed at 9 p.m. ET. We're now awaiting results. Stay tuned.
How tight is Gov. Andrew Cuomo's grip on the New York state Democratic party?
Consider the opening of its May convention, when a pair of bishops delivered the invocation.
On Thursday, Democratic primary voters in New York will decide whether to chose him for a third term in office, matching his father, the late Gov. Mario Cuomo.
In the other corner stands Cynthia Nixon, whose insurgent campaign has cleared a path for progressives up and down the ballot. The primary results could adjust the balance of power both within the state party and in Albany, the state capital, where a divided legislature -- and, progressive critics say, an obstinate governor -- has stymied efforts to pass more ambitious legislation.
Here are the races to watch on Thursday night:
- Gov. Andrew Cuomo vs. Cynthia Nixon
- Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul v NYC councilman Jumaane Williams
- Attorney general: Zephyr Teachout vs. Tish James vs. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney vs. Leecia Eve
- And plenty of down ballot challengers
Thursday's contests in New York represent the final, and perhaps most sensational, opportunity for the national progressive insurgency to unseat a slate of powerful Democratic incumbents.
Cynthia Nixon's bid to deny Gov. Andrew Cuomo a third term has been met with a hard line of resistance from the party establishment, inside the state and nationally, and a paid media blitz from Cuomo, who tried throughout the campaign to cast himself as both liberal champion and hard-bitten foe of President Donald Trump.
Nixon, who is pushing for universal rent control, single-payer health care, new funding for public schools and a large-scale renewal of New York City's broken-down subway system, which is controlled by the state, frequently describes Cuomo's record as insufficiently ambitious for one of the country's bluest states.
"I voted for him eight years ago because I remembered his dad," Nixon said of the governor and his father, the popular late former Gov. Mario Cuomo, at a rally in Brooklyn on Saturday. "And because I believed that he was a Democrat, the way he said he was."
The charge is a familiar one among New York progressives, who fault Cuomo for the state's failure to pass its own DREAM Act, legislation to protect abortion rights and serious campaign finance revisions. And while they credit his successful push to legalize same-sex marriage in 2011, years before most other states took the step, his critics also point to it as evidence that he is not committed to delivering on other liberal priorities.