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A New York City Public Advocate Takes First Step In Run Against Hochul

NEW YORK NOW - Gov. Kathy Hochul may not be the only Democrat running for governor next year.

New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams on Tuesday took his first step toward potentially challenging her for the party’s nomination in next year’s race by forming an exploratory committee ahead of an anticipated campaign.

While he hasn’t formally announced a run for the state’s top job, the committee is the latest indication from Williams that he plans to seek the governorship.

“I’ve spent my entire career, most of my life, pushing and advocating and fighting on behalf of the people and against injustice and inertia,” Williams said. “What’s wrong in New York, and what’s stopping the people in power from changing it. I’m proud to have had many successes in that fight.”

That’s not set in stone; he could very well decide against a run for governor next year, but all signs appear to be pointing toward the opposite result.

Williams launched his political career about a decade ago when he took office as a member of the New York City Council representing part of Brooklyn. Among his accomplishments was a city law that banned employers from asking applicants about their criminal history.

When now-New York Attorney General Letitia James left her position as New York City Public Advocate to serve in her current role, Williams ran for the spot, and won the race in 2019.

He’s on the ballot for reelection this year and is expected to cruise to another win in November. That means that, if he does run for governor next year and loses in a primary election, he’ll still be able to serve as public advocate.

It wouldn’t be the first time Williams has challenged Hochul. He ran for lieutenant governor in 2018 against Hochul, who won by a margin of about 7%.

Williams has, generally, tried to make the argument that former Gov. Andrew Cuomo — and those connected to him — don’t reflect the progressive values of voters who crave leadership further to the left of moderate officials in the Democratic party.

This time around, Williams appears to be using that strategy against Hochul, trying to tie her to the embattled former governor, and framing her as a politician whose values don’t align with a new generation of voters.

“The culture that created, enabled, and empowered Andrew Cuomo and his administration, and others like him is still there. Andrew Cuomo’s Albany is still there,” Williams said. “We need to reject the systems and people that created this leadership crisis in order to move New York forward and better serve New Yorkers.”

If Williams decides to jump into the race, the primary election will be held next June, with the general to follow in November.

Other Democrats have been floated as potential challenges to Hochul as well, including Attorney General James and Rep. Tom Suozzi.