To borrow a line from the late Yogi Berra, it’s déjà vu all over again.
Jumaane Williams, the New York City public advocate, is exploring another Democratic primary run against Kathy Hochul, this time for governor.
In 2018, Williams did well in his race against Hochul for New York lieutenant governor, pulling in a New York Times endorsement in the race, as well as 46.6% of the vote to Hochul’s 53.4%.
This afternoon, standing in what looked like a park in Garden City, Long Island on the first day of his statewide exploratory campaign tour, Williams told Capital Tonight that his decision to run for governor is in no way linked to whether or not Attorney General Letitia James decides to jump into the race.
“No. They are two separate conversations,” he said. “The attorney general and I have a great relationship. She hasn’t publicly said if she’s running. She’s doing a great job as attorney general.”
He acknowledged that there has been a lot of chatter about his friendship with James, and whether he would back out of running for governor if she was interested in throwing her hat in.
Williams is not a fan of Gov. Hochul, who he believes is still part of the Cuomo apparatus. It’s why he was disappointed in state Democratic Chairman Jay Jacob’s endorsement of Hochul earlier this week.
“Having Jay Jacobs, who is the chair of the Democratic Party, who should remain impartial, more worried about preventing a primary from happening in June of 2022 instead of supporting the actual Democratic nominee in a place like Buffalo…smacks of hypocrisy and the same kind of infrastructure in politics we’ve seen.” he said.
Williams was referring to the fact that neither Jacobs nor Hochul have endorsed India Walton, the Democratic nominee for mayor in the city of Buffalo. Incumbent Byron Brown is staging an aggressive write-in campaign.
Capital Tonight also asked Williams if he considered this statement from former Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a letter to his supporters to be a racist dog whistle:
"I fear the state is in a dangerous moment. We are seeing extremists and political expediency rule the day and 'the tail is wagging the dog' in the Democratic Party."
Williams didn’t directly answer the question, but did say that the Cuomo administration was responsible for the state becoming the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’ve been one of the few people who have consistently and constantly say that the administration of the [former] governor, was very problematic for the state,” Williams said. “Even before the unfortunate behaviors that we heard about, long before that, our state was not doing what it should be doing because of the [former] governor.”
According to Williams, who is viewed as a progressive-left candidate, the 2022 race for governor will give New Yorkers an opportunity to change New York from the ground up.
“There are some differences in government and culture, but a lot of the issues that we’re talking about out on Long Island, or in New York City, are the same in upstate,” Williams said. “People are trying to find housing, transportation is an issue, finding education, quality healthcare, the climate – and they are all looking toward Albany for…leadership.”