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Letitia James abandons run for New York governor, will seek re-election as attorney general

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New York State Attorney General, Letitia James, listens to independent investigators Joon H. Kim and Anne L. Clark (not pictured) during a news conference regarding a probe that found New York Governor Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women, in New York, August 3, 2021.

Eduardo Munoz | Reuters

New York Attorney General Letitia James said Thursday she will drop her campaign for governor, and will instead run to be re-elected in her current role.

“I have come to the conclusion that I must continue my work as attorney general,” James said in a statement.

“There are a number of important investigations and cases that are underway, and I intend to finish the job. I am running for re-election to complete the work New Yorkers elected me to do,” she said.

The surprise turnaround came less than two months after James announced her candidacy for governor in 2022, setting up a likely Democratic primary fight against Gov. Kathy Hochul.

Hochul was not elected to the office, and has only served as governor since August, when she replaced Andrew Cuomo after he resigned after an investigation concluded he had sexually harassed multiple women.

That probe, and the damning report that it produced, came from James’ office.

Senior Democratic Party leaders in New York had been privately questioning for weeks whether James was going to be able to raise enough money in order to compete with Hochul, according to people familiar with the matter.

A number of big money donors had signaled to James and her allies that they were sticking with Hochul despite the state’s attorney general announcing a primary for governor, these people previously told CNBC.

These people declined to be named in order to speak freely about these conversations.

Despite the initially chilly reception from some donors, James had pushed forward trying to woo them in a series of private strategy calls.

Last month, James and her team had been scheduled to hold a private call with people described as “our biggest supporters” on an invitation obtained by CNBC.

The previously unreported event was billed to lay out James’ “vision for the office” and “give a presentation discussing the lay of the land for the race ahead.”

Meanwhile, a recent Siena College poll showed James up to 18 percentage points behind Hochul.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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