Bichotte Begins Clearing Field for James Gubernatorial Run

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From left are Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and Attorney General Letitia James.

Kings County Democratic Party Chair Rodneyse Bichotte said Friday that should Attorney General Letitia ‘Tish’ James run for governor next year the general consensus is that she would run in the Democratic primary unopposed.

Bichotte’s remarks come as Gov. Andrew Cuomo clings to office and faces impeachment proceedings following a damaging independent report out of James’ office that found that Cuomo allegedly groped and sexually harassed women and had a toxic workplace.

“Anyone who’s interested in potentially running knows that Tish James is a good candidate given that she’s a statewide official and being a woman of color will be kind of historic. So many different people probably see her as a progressive leader and tough and she’s an attorney. Normally the tradition has been the attorney general will be the next in line for the governorship. So what’s out there right now is if she runs she might run unopposed,” said Bichotte.

“That’s the feeling I’m getting right now. It’s nothing official, but the feeling is she will run unopposed,” Bichotte added.

Bichotte, who has a frosty relationship with Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, said she hasn’t spoken with him yet but believes Williams will probably get in line behind James, given that she’s a “Working Families Party baby.”

“I don’t think it will be a controversial thing. Everybody will get behind her,” Bichotte said.

Meanwhile, a source in Williams’ camp told PoliticsNY that he is “heavily considering a run for governor.”

Another source close to Williams said there’s room and importance in having someone from the left pushing in the upcoming primary, as opposed to someone who was handpicked by Cuomo to be their running mate for attorney general. 

Although progressive, James is considered more moderate than Williams. She came up through the mainstream Black-American political base of former City Councilman and Assemblyman Al Vann, and Bedford-Stuyvesant’s Vanguard Independent Democratic Association (VIDA) political club.

Additionally, sources say that James is a strong supporter of Bed-Stuy Assemblywoman Stefani Zinerman, the lone surviving state elected official from VIDA, and who will likely get opposition from gentrified and leftist Bed-Stuy in next year’s assembly primary. 

It was Zinerman who first discovered Cuomo’s lack of protecting nursing homes from the COVID pandemic that led to thousands of deaths in nursing homes. This led to a James report condemning the state Department of Health under Cuomo for both undercounting the deaths and their handling of nursing homes during the height of the pandemic.

Sources told PoliticsNY that James was in the Hamptons over the weekend for a fundraiser with Bed-Stuy City Councilmember Robert Cornegy and NYPD Chief of Patrol Juanita Holmes, considered a frontrunner for Democratic Mayoral nominee Eric Adams’ pick to become the next police commissioner.

James spoke at the Hamptons Synagogue where sources said she was grilled on her views towards defunding the police. She responded that she will work with Adams’ concerning public safety issues and police reform assuming he is elected mayor, according to sources.

If James were to run for governor, she would have to give up the attorney general seat. James’ political arm did not return inquiries from PoliticsNY on whether she plans to run for re-election or for governor.

Meanwhile, Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul is reportedly preparing to take over as governor should Cuomo resign or be impeached. Should Cuomo resign or be impeached it is likely Hochul will also run for governor next year.

Hochul, a former upstate Congresswoman, was first elected to the post in 2014 as Cuomo’s running mate when the previous lieutenant governor, Robert Duffy, chose not to run for another term.

“[Kathy] will not be commenting on the political rumor mill,” said a Hochul spokesperson.