Attorney General Race

James: Anthony Behar/Sipa USA; Maloney: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY NETWORK; Teachout: Peter Haskell/WCBS 880; Eve: Kevin Hagen/Getty Images

Primary Day: 4 Democratic Candidates Running For NY Attorney General

September 13, 2018 - 11:53 am

NEW YORK (WCBS 880/AP) -- Four Democrats are after the job once held by Eric Schneiderman.

Fordham law professor Zephyr Teachout, New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, Lower Hudson Valley U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney and former Hillary Clinton and Gov. Andrew Cuomo adviser Leecia Eve ae battling for the ballot in the race for attorney general.

As of 10:25 p.m., the New York City Public Advocate Letitia James was polling well ahead, with 44 percent of the vote compared to 30 percent for next closest contender Teachout.

“James is running with support from labor unions and the state’s Democratic Party infrastructure. She also has the backing of Cuomo,” Wall Street Journal reporter Jimmy Vielkind said.

But Teachout, who ran against Cuomo four years ago, likewise have been viewed as an insurgent running from the left.

But all four candidates are running with a focus on taking on President Donald Trump at the state level.

“The investigations of President Trump because of where Trump Inc. is located in New York, a lot of these investigations may turn into New York state investigations – which I might add, Donald Trump is not able to exercise a pardon over. So the person who ends up attorney general in New York for the next for years may have indeed in the immediate future a national platform for the investigations,” said Dr. Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion.

The state Attorney General’s office can also be a launch pad for running for governor, as it was with Gov. Cuomo and before that with Eliot Spitzer, Miringoff noted.

A general election victory for any one of the candidates would be groundbreaking. James or Eve would each be the first black woman to hold the position. Maloney would become the first openly gay person to hold a statewide office in New York. Teachout — or James or Eve — would be the first woman elected to the position, though not the first to hold the office.

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The current attorney general, Barbara Underwood, was appointed in May when Schneiderman resigned after he was accused of physically abusing women. Underwood declined to run for election.

This is a tough race to read.  

Do the party regulars show up giving an edge to James? Or do progressives dominate turnout?

Fordham political science professor Christina Greer says this rare Thursday election could be a factor.

"If you have low turnout and insurgency candidates and people who are inspired to vote for a challenger low turnout can actually hurt the incumbent," Greer said.

That could help Teachout or Maloney or Eve.

"If Zephyr wins then I think we'll talk a lot more about this progressive blue wave that's been chipping away at various races across the country," Greer said.

Political strategist Hank Sheinkopf is curious to see how this plays out.

"Low intensity elections turn out a higher information voters or is there something else going on that we really don't understand yet," Sheinkopf said. "Elections are won or lost by who turns out, not by endorsements."