Just one day after disgraced former Empire State Gov. Andrew Cuomo was charged with a misdemeanor sex-crime complaint in Albany allegedly because he placed his hand under the blouse of a female staffers before potentially groping one of her most sensitive body parts, Cuomo's former political arch-rival, NYAG Letitia James, who spearheaded the investigation into allegations of Cuomo's sexually improprieties involving several much younger aides, has just declared her intention to run for governor of the Empire State, the NYT reports.
James has been sending trial balloons and meeting with major Democratic donors for at least a year now as she has sought to establish herself as the de facto Democratic successor to Cuomo, a long-time political arch rival.
But one factor of Cuomo's political implosion is that his former Lieutenant Gov. Kathy Hochul has been thrust into the spotlight as the first female governor of the Empire State.
A few weeks ago at a political fundraiser, a reporter snapped a photo of Hochul and Jones embracing at the Al Smith Dinner, a major political event attended by the state's top politicos to honor the memory of Al Smith, the first New York Governor to ever speak the oath of office in "the accent of Ireland," as Jone Caro reported in his infamous book "The Power Broker".
Presumably, all this buddy-buddy posturing is a thing of the past. As a sitting governor who was nonetheless elected, Hochul is much more vulnerable due to her association with Cuomo.
In fact, the Daily Mail reported Thursday that Hochul and James went out of their way to avoid one another at an annual power breakfast in NYC Friday morning after house it was leaked that James was preparing to announce her campaign. James even reportedly arrived after Hochul had already come and gone from the annual event. During a brief speech, Hochul showed zero intent to back away from the office, saying in her remarks that she planned to serve multiple terms as governor
It's worth remembering that - however quixotic it might sound to normal Americans, soon-to-be former NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio might use a campaign for governor to stock his campaign war chest legally, giving him powerful political influence since he would then have the option to buy influence from other politicians with his war chest money. But even if he polls a less than 1%, a few well-placed donation could totally overlook the fact that he's about as popular "as Osama bin Laden" in his home state.
While a Republican hasn't won't the governorship in more than 20 years, it's worth noting that whoever emerges victorious from the Democratic primary will take on Hochul or James in next year's general. GOPers have been already fundraising and mobilizing. US Rep. Lee Zeldin of Long Island and former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino are among the GOP candidates who have filed 2022 campaigns paperwork with the state.