Letitia James was elected the state’s first-ever African-American Attorney General on Tuesday — handily beating Republican political novice Keith Wofford to become New York’s top lawyer.
James, now serving as New York City’s public advocate, had 80.3 percent of the vote to Wofford’s 17.8 percent, with 30 percent of the precincts counted.
“This is historic. This is pride — to see someone who’s come up through the ranks from our community and who our community knows and really adores and loves. Tish has not only been a voice on the issues, but someone that people really consider family,” said City Council Member Donovan Richards, chair of the Public Safety Committee.
“This is a big moment for the African-American community, for the black community – not just in New York City but in New York State.”
In the race for state Comptroller, incumbent Tom DiNapoli easily beat Republican challenger Jonathan Trichter, and was leading by a margin of 80.7 percent to 17.5 percent, with 30 of precincts reporting.
As for James, she had made political history several times in her career — including as the first black woman elected to citywide office when she won the public advocate’s race in 2013.
More recently, with her Democratic primary win against three relatively strong opponents in September, James became the first black woman to win a nomination for statewide office.
Since winning a primary where all four candidates beat the drum for keeping President Trump in check, James has announced her intention as Attorney General to target issues that run the gamut: eliminating cash bail, investigating E-cigarette companies that target minors, rehabilitating vacant, so-called “zombie” properties, and protecting the state’s water from “harmful toxins.”
She also said she’d widen the scope of litigation against opioid makers.
But when Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court in early October, James made it clear that her sightlines would be squarely focused on Trump.
“As the next Attorney General, I will investigate Trump’s Constitutional abuses and his shady business practices in New York,” she said in a press release on Oct. 6. “And I will sue the President each time this Administration violates the laws and the Constitution of our country.”
James hit some hurdles during the campaign, including when she stated she didn’t want to be known as the “Sheriff of Wall Street” — a moniker some see as one of the priorities of the job.
She later walked back that statement by saying that she would aggressively pursue cases of malfeasance in the financial sector.
The AG seat became available with the sudden resignation of former AG Eric Schneiderman, who stepped down in May just hours after The New Yorker reported allegations that he had physically abused several women.
Assistant AG Barbara Underwood has been serving as acting Attorney General since then. She opted not to run to keep the position.
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