Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney

Pedro Portal/Miami Herald/TNS

Rep. Maloney On Run For New York Attorney General: 'I Want To Play Some Offense' Against Trump's Policies

June 07, 2018 - 12:34 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-New York) is mounting a run for state Attorney General, and said Thursday that he would be the independent and thoughtful choice for the job.

Maloney talked with WCBS 880’s Wayne Cabot and Paul Murnane Thursday morning. Some have questioned whether he can mount a race for state AG when he has already been renominated for his seat in Congress.

U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-New York) already decided not to run for Attorney General and said she would focus on running to keep her House seat instead. But Maloney said he is not running for two offices and will vacate his congressional nomination if he wins the Democratic primary for Attorney General in September.

“Nobody’s running for two offices,” he said. “What happens under New York is we’ve got this wacky thing where we’ve got the federal primary in June and we’ve got a state primary in September. A judge did that a few years ago. Bottom line is you can’t be nominated for two offices at once.”

Maloney said an open primary for New York Attorney General was not something anyone expected, but then Attorney General Eric Schneiderman was the subject of a New Yorker article in which four women he dated or met romantically accused him of nonconsensual physical violence.

Schneiderman resigned within hours of the publication of the article.

Maloney said he decided he wanted to jump into the Attorney General’s race because he believes it will be an effective way to stand up to the Trump administration and forces in Washington that he believes are destructive and threatening to many New Yorkers.

“I’m down here on the front lines in Washington every day, watching what’s happening to New York on everything from whacking the property taxes of people that I represent in the Hudson Valley, to coming after our health care, to coming after dreamers and kids trying to make their way in the American way of life. They’re coming after LGBTQ people and rolling back our hard-fought, hard-fought rights,” he said.

Maloney noted that he himself has an interracial family and is constantly worried about what could happen.

“I’ve adopted three kids. My kids are African-American and Latino. They’re being raised by gay dads. I’m scared to death. It scares the hell out of me what would happen if Donald Trump could get his way in America, and I’ve been down here playing defense, and I want to play some offense,” he said.

Maloney added that he believes he has “the experience to win,” with 25 years in the public and private sector, the legal community, Albany, and Congress.

Published reports say Maloney has already amassed a war chest amounting to $3 million if not more for his campaign for reelection in Congress. There have been questions as to whether he can appropriate that money to use for his campaign for Attorney General, but Maloney said it would not matter if it turned out he could not.

"We’re going to have plenty of money. I’m proud that we’ve got a ton of support. My understanding is we can use all of it,” he said. “But here’s the deal – if I can use all of it, great. If I can’t use one penny, I’ll go raise it from all the folks who are being hurt by Donald Trump and this crazy agenda down here in Washington that I’m fighting every day.”

The New York State Democratic Party has already named New York City Public Advocate Letitia James as its nominee for AG, though others may mount primary campaigns against her and Maloney is doing so.

He said not being endorsed by the party or by Gov. Andrew Cuomo is “a feature, not a bug.”

“You want an independent person in this office. Now, I am a three-term member of Congress. I have been doing this stuff at a senior level for 25 years. I’m not some newbie to this, and I’m going to do this job right. But you want somebody – whether it’s the president or a governor – any governor – or some billionaire, you want this person to be independent and to stand up to them, and if any one of those people is breaking the law, I’m going to take them down,” he said. “And so you do not want someone in this job who has been the handpicked choice of a bunch of Albany and party bosses.”

New York state Solicitor General Barbara Underwood was appointed to the AG post on an interim basis and was voted in by the state Legislature to keep the seat through the end of the year. Underwood is not running to be elected to the seat.

Maloney also ran for attorney general in 2006, but lost to now-Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the primary that year.