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Tish James shook up the political landscape in New York state on Thursday afternoon when she dropped out of the governor’s race less than two months after announcing her campaign.
According to multiple sources, James’ shock decision came after soul searching that included a “long night staying up” and a nagging feeling that she needed to focus on her current job.
“I have come to the conclusion that I must continue my work as attorney general,” James said in a statement. “There are a number of important investigations and cases that are underway, and I intend to finish the job.”
News of James’ exit first broke in a tweet from NY1’s Zack Fink. Some of the initial reporting on her decision cited her position in the polls. A Siena College poll released on Tuesday showed the current governor, Kathy Hochul, with an approximately 18 point lead over James, who was her closest competitor.
Multiple sources in James’ camp who were granted anonymity to discuss internal deliberations disputed the suggestion that poll numbers motivated the decision. While James is currently behind Hochul, her camp was adamant that she saw a path to victory. The sources said internal polling clearly showed James could gain on Hochul if she ramped up her campaign.
However, thus far, James’ campaign hasn’t been nearly as active as Hochul’s. A James ally, who also was granted anonymity, said an article that was published in Politico on Wednesday detailing how few events James had held was a “gut check” for the attorney general.
“She couldn’t make campaign events and she couldn’t allow her work [as attorney general] to suffer,” the James ally said.
James’ office is currently pursuing a series of investigations of high profile targets including former President Donald Trump, the National Rifle Association, and major technology companies. Shortly before James announced her decision on Thursday, the Washington Post reported that the attorney general is seeking a deposition from Trump next month as part of her investigation into potential fraud at his real estate company, the Trump Organization. Lawyers for Trump’s business have repeatedly described that probe as politically motivated.
The James ally said she decided to “call it a day” after her campaign prepared a detailed calendar of events that she felt would take focus from the investigations.
“Something had to go,” the James ally said.