NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams makes run for governor official

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams made it official that he is running for governor. Photo by Dean Moses

New York City Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams made it official Tuesday: He’s running for governor.

The announcement came after a seven-week exploratory phase, during which Williams visited and spoke with areas throughout the Empire State to drum up support, including Long Island, the Mid-Hudson, Rochester, and Buffalo. 

“In this moment, I believe we need bold, principled progressive leadership in Albany to move our state forward with justice and equity, no matter the political winds,” Williams said. “I’m honored to announce my candidacy to be the next Governor of New York, humbled by this opportunity to empower the people and renew New York, and excited to share my vision of structural change with communities all across the state I love.”

Having been re-elected public advocate earlier this month, Williams has built a reputation as one of New York City’s most progressive elected officials. Now, the candidate says he wants to take that leadership statewide. 

“There is a movement building in New York. A courageous progressive movement that challenges the powerful – and helps restore that power to the people. A movement I’m proud to be a part of. Because without courageous progressive leadership, the way things have always been will stand in the way of what they can be,” he added.

In a video released with his announcement, Williams spoke about his time growing up in Brooklyn with Tourette Syndrome and ADHD, his time as an organizer, and how he has incorporated that work into a decade of service as an elected official. 

Williams, 45, and a graduate of Brooklyn Tech High School and Brooklyn College, started his elected political career as a City Councilman from 2010-2019. 

Since becoming Public Advocate in 2019, Williams said he has passed more legislation than any of his predecessors throughout their tenure, ranging from protecting affordable housing and promoting racial equity in development to codifying the right to record police activity. 

In 2018, while still in the City Council, he mounted a progressive insurgent primary campaign for lieutenant governor against now Governor Kathy Hochul, and nearly beat her with 47% of the vote – most of it within New York City.

In announcing his run, Williams immediately claimed the mantle of the progressive left in an increasingly crowded Democratic Primary field that includes Hochul and Attorney General Letitia James. 

Outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio and U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Long Island/Queens) are also believed to be eyeing a run for governor.

A spokesperson for James’ campaign welcomed Williams in the race. 

“Throughout his career, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams has been an important leader on issues from police reform to housing and we welcome him to the race. Attorney General James is running a change-making campaign for governor and as we’ve seen in just a short time there has been a groundswell of support from New Yorkers, labor unions, elected officials and others around her historic candidacy for governor,” said the spokesperson

The primary is slated for June 28, 2022. The winner advances to the general election on Nov. 8.