A LOT HAS TO DO with circumstances, luck and timing. Hillary Clinton could have been president, but for a phony, lying, despicable jerk who came along at the right time and conned a lot of people who were unhappy with what might be called the American malaise. Of course, Hillary got the most votes by a lot, but the one-time television huckster got lucky because of the way our electoral rules are structured. Ironically, the man who will always claim that the American electoral system is rigged has done everything in his power to make that happen.
In any case, we recently heard that New York State Attorney General Letitia James has dropped out of the race for governor. In my opinion, that is too bad because she has shown herself to be a top drawer AG. I suspect that had Andrew Cuomo not resigned, James would have ended up as the state’s governor, just as two former attorneys general (Andrew Cuomo and Eliot Spitzer) who preceded her did. But no, that’s not the way it happened. Seeing her accession to the top job foiled by Hochul’s becoming governor, she jumped into the race, maybe waiting just a bit too long. Then a series of polls came out, predicting that Kathy Hochul would trounce Letitia James in the coming primary.
We know that a lot of centrist Democrats and even Republicans in New York were wildly behind Hochul. After the inevitable unhappiness following Andrew Cuomo’s resignation, New Yorkers were looking for some political peace. They needed a rest and with Hochul, they got it. A whole bunch of Democratic and Republican political people got together and made it clear that Hochul was the new hope. I called the new governor “competent” and I heard from one senior and impressive business leader that the word “competent” was a put down.
James decided to drop out of the race and remain in her post as attorney general. Maybe in doing that she was trying to save face, but the result is good, as she was doing a splendid job as the state’s top lawyer. Naturally, Hochul endorsed James and that will probably keep any others who might want to vie for the AG post out of the race. Of course, there’s the possibility that someone like Zephyr Teachout might be tempted to think that Letitia James has been weakened by losing out on the governorship. When you are frustrated in politics, you might make mistakes.
As for me, I admit that I am disappointed that James is out of the race. But there are others who are still considering contesting for the governorship. One is the outgoing mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, who has been term limited out of his present job and has no place to go. In fact, my sense is that with Letitia James out of the race, anything is possible. That includes the possibility of the hapless de Blasio picking up some New York City votes. It could still be a crowded primary.
Letitia James’ decision to step out was a smart decision. This way, her career goes on. Had she been out of her AG’s spot and lost her bid for governor, she may well have been eliminated from the world of politics altogether. She’s way too talented to take the risk of losing it all. In politics, anything can happen. A short while ago it looked like Andrew Cuomo was on his way to a fourth term. We thought he couldn’t be stopped. Had he not been forced out, Letitia James might have been the first Black woman to become governor. Now she joins Hillary Clinton on the long list of folks who were martyred by circumstance.