AG James is now running to keep her seat; Who she’s up against

NY State Assemblymember Clyde Vanel
Courtesy Clyde Vanel Campaign.

Letitia James has led the state’s highest legal office as the first Black woman to take the position. Now, a wide field of Democrats and Republicans were vying for her seat in the 2022 election for attorney general when she entered the 2022 governor’s race, but they weren’t anticipating running against the incumbent until she dropped out Dec. 9. James is back to defend her investigations and see them through against opponents that she can likely beat given her track record in the position. Here is more information about them, as well as some of their responses to James suspending her run for governor.


Dan Goldman: Prosecutor from the U.S. attorney’s office known for is work on the impeachment counsel of Donald Trump. 

“Our nation faces an existential threat to our democratic ideals and the rule of law.”

James plans to go after Trump in a civil fraud investigation into his business practices, but Goldman wants voters to know that he’s faced the former president head-on. In his campaign video, he highlighted his post-impeachment work to secure and protect voting rights for all Americans. He wants to use his office to reduce the amount of guns on the street, protect the right to an abortion and fight against climate change. “He is an extraordinary legal mind and a great public servant,” said U.S. Representative Adam Schiff.

Shelley Mayer (Dropped out Dec. 9): Progressive State Senator of the 37th district, and former assistant attorney general. 

“I think I have a track record of building coalitions.” 

Mayer announced early Nov. 1 to News12 Bronx, saying that she knows the office and knows the power of the office; She also has more experience than some of her competitors, since she served as assistant attorney general from 1982 to 1994 and serving as an assemblymember for five years before she was elected to the state senate in a special election. She dropped out to make way for James to keep her job.

Zephyr Teachout: Lost to James in 2018, progressive law professor. 

“I think it can be helpful to think of the A.G. as the largest public interest law firm in the country.”

Teachout started her career as a defense lawyer. Now she’s a professor with a bustling campaign and a few key supporters. “Zephyr will take on the big fights and also sweat the details & root out corruption & injustice at every level. Zephyr’s the honest, independent fighter that New Yorkers — and the Hudson Valley — needs in the AG’s office,” said Dutchess County Democratic Chair Elisa Sumner. Political activist and former public advocate Mark Green also endorsed Teachout.

Clyde Vanel: Queens assemblyman, son of Hatian immigrants, owned his own law firm and restaurant.

“Throughout my life I have always prided myself on giving back to the community that gave me the opportunity to rise up and fulfill my parents’ dreams.”

According to Vanel’s campaign, the assemblyman will be focusing on economic justice, public safety, and consumer protection. He currently chairs the Assembly Subcommittee on Internet and New Technology. He recently sponsored a no-excuse absentee ballot bill that recently passed in the Assembly. “Clyde will be the people’s lawyer. He is one of them. He is from the very group, working families, that he will be a champion for,” his campaign wrote.

Maria Vullo: Recently head of the state’s Department of Financial Services, former unsuccessful candidate for governor, Congress and AG. 

“I want to continue to use my experience, my determination and my love of this great state to serve the people of the state of New York.”

A Brooklynite and daughter of a Second World War veteran, Vullo is making another play for James’ seat. She touts her experience as a laywer fighting for homeowners, victims of sexual assault, and winning a large case for Planned Parenthood doctors. She is one of the chairs for NARAL Pro Choice America. 


Michael Henry: Commercial attorney from Astoria. 

“You have to find a way to get through to communities that haven’t traditionally voted Republican.”

Henry is not phased by James’ reentry. In a statement released Dec. 9, he said, “Attorney General Letitia James will now always remain an ‘Aspiring Governor’ after her disastrous performance in the gubernatorial race. I welcome her back to the race for Attorney General.” Before becoming a commercial attorney, Henry was a judicial intern in Suffolk County surrogate’s court. He wants to fight against anti-police sentiment and seek justice for nursing home victims during the pandemic. 

Joseph Holland: Real estate lawyer, former New York State Housing Commissioner, ordained minister.

Holland was last seen supporting his Republican colleagues at a press conference against non-citizen immigrant voting rights. As Housing Commissioner, Holland oversaw the planning and funding of affordable housing units across the state. He later served on the board of the Harlem Community Development Corporation, and he wants to take that experience and establish an economic development bureau in the AG’s office.

John Sarcone: Westchester lawyer, former attorney for the towns of Eastchester and Cornwall. 

Unlike the incumbent, I have actual courtroom experience.”

Sarcone announced his candidacy touting his 20 years of experience as a lawyer, representing high profile clients and negotiating large settlements. As AG, Sarcone wants to hire 500 new investigators, restore positive opinion of the police and repeal bail reform laws. On James’ return to the AG race, he said, “Attorney General is too important of a job to treat it like a consolation prize. It’s time to end the days of using the office as a stepping stone and create a strong foundation where New York’s AG works to restore public safety.” 

Rumored to Run 

Eric Gonzalez: Brooklyn District Attorney.

Michael Gianaris: State Senator and attorney from Queens.

Melinda Katz: Queens District Attorney.

Andrew Cuomo: Disgraced former governor.