AG Letitia James vetting potential running mates, with eyes on Suffolk County exec

1

ALBANY — Looking to increase past her Brooklyn base, associates of gubernatorial hopeful state Attorney General Letitia James have quietly began vetting potential running mates for 2022 — and it appears like Democratic Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone is main the pack, sources advised The Post.  

Bellone met privately with James’ advisors in San Juan, Puerto Rico throughout the SOMOS political convention at first of November, in keeping with a Democratic supply briefed on the assembly.

“It was a good meeting with Team Tish talking about issues related to the campaign, but also about who Steve is and what his values are. It touched on potential interest, but it didn’t get into actual negotiations. It was a good first step in building a relationship,” mentioned the supply.

“Like Tish, Steve is a reformer who has taken on corruption in law enforcement and even within his own party,” added the supply. 

Although James was not current, each events agreed to “stay in touch” about subsequent steps, the supply mentioned.

Sources mentioned the outreach is in its starting levels.

Bellone, in the meantime, has mentioned he’s eager about his personal potential bid as a statewide candidate for governor in 2022.

“Bellone has nothing to lose,” longtime political strategist Hank Sheinkopf advised The Post, noting the Democrat shall be on the lookout for a job come 2023, as he’s term-limited. Suffolk County has a rule that claims countywide elected officers can solely serve a most of 12 consecutive years. Bellone was re-elected to a 3rd time period in 2019.

“The James campaign is playing a geographic campaign. There’s too many Brooklyn-based candidates in the race right now. She needs to win the suburbs, and her best shot is Long Island,” he mentioned.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone is considered to be James' top choice for lieutenant governor.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone is taken into account to be James’ best choice for lieutenant governor.
Photo by J. Conrad Williams, Jr./Newsday RM by way of Getty Images

“Crime will be the issue, and Bellone, by definition as an Italian Catholic, brings a somewhat more conservative, pro-law enforcement patina,” he added. 

A Bellone spokesman declined to remark when contacted by The Post. 

A purple wave swept Long Island within the current election in response to backlash over the state’s controversial bail reform legal guidelines — as Republican candidates for each Nassau and Suffolk district lawyer beat their Democratic opponents and incumbent Democratic County Executive Laura Curran misplaced her job to Bruce Blakeman, a GOP county legislator.

But Bellone has sported a pro-cop stance and opposes the “Defund the Police” motion. He additionally just lately introduced Suffolk is hiring over 700 legislation enforcement officers beneath a brand new legislation enforcement initiative.

Bellone is considered to be pro-police and against the "Defund" movement.
Bellone is taken into account to be pro-police and in opposition to the progressive “Defund” motion.
AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

It’s additionally a direct distinction to Gov. Kathy Hochul’s meant 2022 running mate — New York’s present Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin, who has publicly proclaimed he’s supportive of the “Defund” motion.

Meanwhile, sources mentioned and News 12 first reported Westchester’s Democratic County Executive George Latimer can also be within the running for James’ LG.

James spent election night time with the pol, celebrating his re-election victory and proclaiming: “I love George Latimer.”

“The decision on who to select to run alongside, as Lt. Governor, is Attorney General James’ prerogative to make. There are a number of talented individuals to choose from, and I’m confident she’ll make the best possible choice. There’s no reason to speculate. She’ll announce her decision soon enough. I’m happy to play whatever role best helps us move this state forward,” mentioned Latimer in an announcement.

State Sen. James Skoufis (D-Newburgh) can also be within the place, in keeping with a second Democratic supply who mentioned the pol was first contacted in mid-October by a minimum of two people in James’ circle.

“[He’s] young, strong fundraiser, relationships in both legislative chambers and knows how to win. He would be a strong choice,” mentioned the supply.

Skoufis was first elected to the state Senate in 2018 and earlier than that served six years within the state Assembly. 

Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick is another candidate the James camp is considering for running mate.
Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick is one other candidate the James camp is contemplating for running mate.
AP Photo/Cliff Owen

Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick can also be on the shortlist, in keeping with two sources. 

First elected in 2012 as town’s youngest mayor, he’s additionally Ithaca’s first mayor of shade.

James joined the progressive Democrat throughout a public press convention on Oct. 13 as a part of her ‘HealNY’ tour to distribute settlement cash to communities ravaged by the opioid epidemic. 

She inquired concerning the pol’s “future” and “what could come next,” in keeping with a supply with data of the dialog.

James formally introduced in October that she’s running in opposition to Hochul subsequent 12 months,

The AG sunk disgraced ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s profession with the discharge of her bombshell Aug. 3 sexual harassment report which concluded he sexually harassed 11 girls and broke a number of state and federal legal guidelines.

Since then Cuomo and his allies have tried to undermine her workplace’s findings, arguing as a result of she sought increased workplace the report was tainted from the beginning.

James has denied the criticisms, arguing her workplace in conjunction with impartial investigators Joon Kim and Anne Clark operated in a non-political vogue.

A rep for James declined to remark when contacted by The Post.