Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who is considering a run for governor, declared Wednesday that he’d be a challenger who would “shake” up the “atmosphere” that for years has pervaded New York state politics.
The lefty politician from Brooklyn made the statements during a round of appearances on local morning TV shows, during which he mostly stuck to broad criticism of freshly minted Gov. Kathy Hochul and used similarly vague reform-minded campaign rhetoric.
“There is a culture there that is steeped in a lot of old ways of doing things, that is hard to renew, unless you really shake it up in a very significant way,” he said on PIX 11 TV.
Asked what caused him to take steps toward running against Gov. Kathy Hochul in a party primary to be the state’s Democratic nominee, Williams said it would be difficult to “renew” the Empire State with Hochul — disgraced ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s pick to be his No. 2 — at the helm.
“It’s been something we’re thinking about for quite some time, and it really, what began to take me over, was the need to recover and renew New York state … and it’s really hard to do that if you don’t change the infrastructure that allows the type of atmosphere, the atmosphere we’ve seen for such a long time in Albany,” he said.
“We are trying to recover and renew New York state and New York City from the pandemic,” he said on NY1. “It’s hard to do that if the infrastructure that created the environment that we’ve seen in the last administration — but even before that in Albany — is still there.
“What I would like to bring is a different way of doing politics,” he added. “It’s not just testing the winds, not just using toxicity, ego, not just making decisions based on what’s best for the individual — but what’s best for the people of the city and the state, and I have a lot of experience to do that.”
Williams this week formed an exploratory committee to mount a Democratic primary challenge to Hochul next year, and has been calling donors and other insiders to tell them about his potential candidacy, The Post reported Monday.
One Democratic insider said Williams was “trying to get out ahead” of potential Democratic primary bids by Attorney General Letitia James and term-limited Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“He also struggles raising money, so he’s dipping his toe in early to see the reaction,” the source previously said.
Williams, who for months has been floated as a possible 2022 governor’s race candidate, would still not commit to running.
“For the next two, three, four weeks, we’re going to be speaking to a lot of folks, bringing people [in], expanding our advisory committee and making sure that our vision lines up to what we’ve heard people want in Albany for very many years,” he said on NY1.
Williams — who unsuccessfully challenged then Lt. Gov. Hochul in the 2018 Democratic primary — suggesting he may again attempt to unseat Hochul comes after the former member of the City Council has in recent weeks changed his tune about the current governor.
“She is genuinely interested in moving the state forward, and generally interested in what I had to say, and the solutions that I’ve been presenting for quite some time, and I’m looking forward to the fruits of that conversation in the coming weeks,” the public advocate said Aug. 18 on PIX 11.
But he last week ripped Hochul — along with Mayor Bill de Blasio, who may also run for governor — for not visiting Rikers Island amid the deadly crisis at the city lockup.
“This morning, they’re showing where their priorities are,” he said Thursday on PIX 11.
During his 2018 primary lieutenant gubernatorial campaign against Hochul, Williams lost by about 7 percent, or roughly 100,000 votes. Williams’ earned the bulk of his support from the five boroughs, particularly his home borough of Brooklyn.
In the race, Hochul was supported by then-Gov. Cuomo and many of the state’s Democratic officials, while the then-City Council member’s campaign was backed by left-wing gubernatorial hopeful and actor Cynthia Nixon along with several progressive groups.
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