Letitia James

Letitia James.

ALBANY (TNS) — State Attorney General Letitia James left open the door to a potential run for governor when asked Thursday about her political aspirations for 2022.

”My focus is on my work in the office of the New York State Attorney General,” James told reporters at the state University at Albany’s Cultural Education Center. “I enjoy serving in the office of the New York State Attorney General and it’s entirely up to the people of the state of New York.”

She looked forward to serving “as long as the people will have me.”

James spoke following an evening discussion with former Attorney General Robert Abrams, whom James described as a role model, that was sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute.

Media reports have indicated supporters are fielding calls to gauge interest in a James campaign for governor. James did not respond directly to a question about those calls.

Her comments came on a night when she and Abrams, the attorney general from 1979 to 1993, expressed their shared passion and appreciation for the job, from its ability to set public policy and its role as a voice for New Yorkers. Abrams, like James, is a Democrat.

”Tish James, who I admire greatly, is breaking new ground,” Abrams said prior to the event. “It’s a great office, it’s an important office and it’s filled by a person today who is meeting every power and responsibility.”

Abrams, who led the landmark environmental investigation into the Love Canal toxic contamination in Niagara Falls, drew a parallel to when he came into office under the presidential administration of Republican Ronald Reagan and when James took office under the administration of President Donald Trump. He praised her for taking a leading role among attorneys general in legal fights against tseveral of Trump’s policies and the Trump Organization.

He also applauded legal actions the attorney general took against the National Rifle Association and opioid producers.

Abrams pushed back against assertions former Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his team have made that James’ sexual harassment report into the governor, which ultimately prompted his resignation last month, was politically motivated. Cuomo, a Democrat, on Wednesday tweeted that the push to remove him was politics “every step of the way.”

”I don’t subscribe to that theory at all,” Abrams told reporters. He noted Cuomo called for the investigation by James, who then hired outside attorneys to work on the issue for months.

”The attorney general did what was required. I don’t see politics entering that role,” he said. “Indeed, it was initiated by the governor himself.”

Findings from the state Assembly Judiciary Committee’s impeachment investigation of Cuomo are expected to be released soon. Prior to the release of James’ report, which found Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women, the Cuomo administration publicly attacked the credibility of the attorney general, stating that the report was tainted by her political ambitions.

”Listen, I did my job; and I understand there are individuals who are acting on behalf of the former governor of the great state of New York,” James said. “Our work is concluded; the report speaks for itself. It was independent and I did what I had to do. And it’s open. There are individuals who are seeking to undermine the independence and the credibility of these witnesses — but again, the evidence was overwhelming, it was substantiated, it was corroborated. And I believe the women.”

Both the governor’s office and the attorney general’s post are on the ballot next year. Kathy Hochul, who became governor when Cuomo resigned, has announced her plans to run for election. A Democratic primary primary will be held in June.

© 2021 the Times Union (Albany, N.Y.) Visit the Times Union (Albany, N.Y.) at www.timesunion.com Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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