AG Letitia James behind in poll to GOP candidate Michael Henry

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Don’t look now, but Governor Kathy Hochul is not the only statewide Democratic elected official suddenly facing a tight race with less than three weeks before the Nov. 8 general election.

According to the most recent nonpartisan Trafalgar Group poll, incumbent Attorney General Letitia James has fallen behind Republican attorney general candidate Michael Henry by one point – 45.4% to 44.4% – as of October 15.

Republican Attorney General candidate Michael Henry

This poll is the third Trafalgar Group poll released by the Michael Henry campaign, with two other polls from September 29 and October 6 showing narrow leads. A competing poll released by Siena College Research Institute had James 16 points up over Henry, 53-37%.

The Trafalgar poll, along with other recent polls showing GOP Gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin within striking distance of Hochul, has Republicans increasingly optimistic.

“In the last about 45-60 days, there have been two public polls by an A-rated pollster that has us with a slight lead over the attorney general, and our internal numbers are similar,” Henry told PoliticsNY. “It was a statewide poll. I don’t deal personally with Trafalgar, but it was all in the state of New York with a sampling of Democratic voters.”

Henry, the son of a retired Mount Vernon detective and a surgery center manager from the Bronx, owns  a New York City based, boutique law firm which specializes in commercial litigation, creditor bankruptcy and PACA Trust. He has also successfully represented numerous asylum seekers fleeing Communist China before the Executive Office of Immigration Review. 

He attributed the leading numbers in the Trafalgar polls to the “grassroots support” that his campaign has across the state. 

“We’ve been doing door knocking for quite a while now on the weekends, especially in the outer boroughs of New York City,” he said. “We work hard, we get good media, and we do the best we can to be fiscally conservative with our budget. Our message has been resonating with a lot of voters across party lines, and that’s why we’ve been able to get the support that we have.”

New York State Attorney General Letitia James

A James’ campaign spokesperson responded that this wasn’t a poll, but rather two numbers on a page.

“They aren’t releasing cross-tabs breakdown of the numbers by race and geography, so there’s no way to see if their model of who is going to vote makes sense,” the spokesperson said. “Public polling has her ahead by 16 points.”

James, also an attorney, started her career as a public defender, and then worked on staff in the New York State Assembly. She went on to become an established politician, having served as an elected official in the city council, and as the first Black woman public advocate before being elected four years ago as the first Black woman attorney general.

A debate invitation to the New York attorney general candidates for November 2 was extended by NY1 last week. Henry has accepted the invitation, and according to him, the attorney general race is the only statewide election so far to not have a confirmed debate. 

“To the best of our knowledge, the current attorney general has not accepted this invite,” Henry said. “We’ve been trying to get a debate for over a month now. Early voting will have been going on for five days by the time we would actually have a debate between us. In such a tight race, the voters should really hear the contrasting difference between what each candidate is offering and what each candidate’s vision is for the office and how they can best serve the people in New York.”

When asked if the campaign had an alternative to a debate planned, Henry said that “we’re working on that internally. There are plans in place, but as of right now we are hoping that she can be pressured into accepting this debate because it’s the right thing to do.”

In response to an inquiry as to whether James will be accepting an invitation to debate with Henry, a spokesperson for the campaign said that “we are still working on it.”