Even casual observers will note, there is no love lost between New York State Attorney General Letitia James and former President Donald Trump. Ms. James has spent years investigating Trump’s business empire in the Big Apple. She has been quite public about her desire to take down the former president’s corporate kingdom and has devoted a good deal of political capital to that quest.
Immediately following her election in 2018, James made it clear that she planned to go after Mr. Trump hammer and tong. “Donald Trump’s days of defrauding Americans are coming to an end … We can spot a carnival barker,” she sneered. Fast-forward to 2022, and the New York AG is still battling her nemesis, though perhaps not for much longer.
Letitia James Re-Election Woes
A recent poll released by the Trafalgar Group has James running behind her Republican opponent, Michael Henry. In a month-long survey of 1,091 respondents, Trafalgar has Henry winning with 44.2% of likely voters, while James is at 43%. That doesn’t seem like much of a separation. However, the fact that this race appears so tight in a Democratic stronghold should worry the James campaign. A whopping 12.8% of the New York state electorate who say they are likely to vote remain undecided.
The Atlanta-based survey group is one of the few pollsters who don’t monkey around with their research to achieve a desired outcome. For example, even though the Harris/James race falls within the 2.9% margin of error, Trafalgar was careful to emulate the lopsided Empire State electorate. It surveyed 53% Democrats, just over 27% Republicans, and close to 19% of respondents declared no party affiliation.
Republican candidate Henry quickly used the Trafalgar numbers to fire up his base: “This is a winnable race,” he tweeted. “We have to keep our energy high & keep telling our neighbors and friends to vote in November.”
Henry is running a populist campaign. “It’s time to return the power of the people’s lawyer TO THE PEOPLE (emphasis his).” The New York City attorney’s platform includes the hot-button issue of rolling back bail reform, which, the contender says, “has created a revolving door for violent and recidivist criminals, crime rates have risen across the state.” He also stands as a pro-law enforcement candidate with no apparent animosity toward Mr. Trump.
More Trouble for Letitia
Meanwhile, skirmishes are breaking out on several fronts for Ms. James as we head into the final month before voters go to the polls. In a Sept. 14 New York Post column, former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley railed against the New York AG. “The radical left is at it again,” she bellowed in the opening line of her screed. Haley is hopping mad at James’ office, claiming it “leaked a confidential list of my policy group’s supporters to the mainstream media.” Calling the incident a “gross violation of state and federal law,” the former South Carolina governor exploded. “Liberals are willing to do anything to beat conservatives, and they don’t care what laws they break or whom they hurt along the way,” she wrote.
Just this week, former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo filed a state ethics complaint against the AG, as well. Mr. Cuomo resigned as governor shortly before the publication of an investigation – led by Ms. James – that found he had sexually harassed 11 women during his time as governor. According to Cuomo, James – who briefly ran to replace him before pulling out of the gubernatorial race and continuing on as AG – mishandled the investigation. The former governor alleges that Ms. James and a pair of outside lawyers violated rules of professional conduct by defaming him.
James also finds herself in a gunfight of sorts with New York’s new firearm laws that took effect this month. According to the Post, a federal judge called the New York laws “unconstitutional,” but James promised to defend them fiercely. She is also well known for going after the National Rifle Association with almost as much zeal as she has Mr. Trump.
Just to put the cherry on top of the New York AG’s pre-election troubles comes backlash from a panel of law school deans who have rejected her nominee to a new ethics watchdog agency. On September 2, James’ pick, Judge Emily Jane Goodman, was nixed by the Independent Review Committee for the Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government.
But make no mistake, Letitia James has staked her political career on nailing Donald Trump and his business empire to the wall. Whether she will collapse under the weight of her radical left agenda is still in the offing, but the Trafalgar poll reveals her vulnerability. Is Ms. James hanging on the political ropes? It does seem so. Now it’s up to Michael Henry to go for the knockout punch.