New York Attorney General Letitia James, who oversaw the investigation into sexual harassment allegations against former Gov. Andrew Cuomo among other cases, announced Friday that she's running for governor.
"New Yorkers need a governor who isn’t afraid to stand up to powerful interests on behalf of the vulnerable. Throughout my career, I’ve taken on big forces and New Yorkers know I will never back down when it comes to fighting for them," James said in a statement. "Today, I am proud to announce my candidacy for governor of New York so we can bring transformational change that uplifts all New Yorkers."
The move, which was forecasted this week, came just one day after prosecutors filed a misdemeanor charge against Cuomo for alleged forcible touching, a charge that carries a potential one-year prison sentence.
James' bid for the top job sets the stage for what is expected to be a tough primary battle with incumbent candidate Gov. Kathy Hochul, who replaced Cuomo in August as the state's first female governor.
But the attorney general's decision to run for governor could mean an uphill battle to win over voters sympathetic to Cuomo.
James' announcement could validate claims made by the former governor among his remaining supporters that the allegations, and now charges, brought against Cuomo were politically motivated.
It is not yet clear what issues will put the female candidates at odds with one another – both of whom have been associated with more moderate elements of the Democratic Party.
"I’m running for governor of New York because I have the experience, vision, and courage to take on the powerful on behalf of all New Yorkers," James wrote on Twitter in her announcement. "Let’s do this together."
James had made a name for herself in Democratic circles prior to the Cuomo inquiry by taking on the National Rifle Association and the years-long probe into Donald Trump’s company dealings.
New Yorkers will elect their next governor in November 2022.