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Dems and GOP choose attorney general candidates

Flickr (File Photo)
New York City Public Advocate Letitia James

Democrats and Republicans, meeting this week at their state conventions, made their choices to fill the open seat for state attorney general after the resignation of Eric Schneiderman over a domestic violence scandal.

Democrats chose New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, who said she will continue Schneiderman’s work pursuing cases to protect immigrants, consumer rights and women’s rights against threats by the federal government.

“The attorney general stands at the vanguard as a firewall of protection and not a wall of exclusion,” James said in her speech. “Because we are confronting nothing short of the biggest challenge to our democracy in the history of this country.”

James quickly shored up enough support to win the nomination, but she’s likely to face a primary challenge from two other female candidates: Leecia Eve, a former counsel to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and Zephyr Teachout, the 2014 democratic primary challenger to Cuomo.

If elected, James would be the first African-American and female attorney general.

Credit New York Republican State Committee / Facebook
New York City attorney Keith Wofford, center, accepts the New York state GOP's nomination for attorney general.

Republicans chose Keith Wofford, a New York City attorney in private practice who grew up in Buffalo. Wofford, who also is African-American, told delegates that he oversees a staff of 320 lawyers and specializes in obtaining money owed to creditors, including major banks, from mortgage companies and utilities.

He said those skills would help him be an effective attorney general. And he implicitly criticized Schneiderman’s multiple lawsuits against the Trump administration.

“We need an attorney general who knows how to recover the billions of dollars of taxpayer money that have been stolen through waste, fraud and abuse by our elected officials in Albany,” Wofford said. “We need an attorney general who knows the difference between a good lawsuit and a lousy one.”

Wofford said another top priority would be fighting corruption in Albany, which he said is rampant.

Schneiderman, who resigned May 8, has been accused of physically abusing multiple women that he dated. He has denied the allegations.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.