Until a few months ago, Eric Schneiderman was a sure bet as the Democratic Party's candidate for attorney general. But it's been a screwy year in New York politics, and Schneiderman resigned from the seat – and faded from the public eye – amid allegations that he'd physically assaulted several women, all former romantic partners of his.
Schneiderman's resignation left a prominent, statewide seat wide open, and a handful of Democrats began scrambling to line up as candidates. Out of that, four have emerged to run in the September 13 Democratic primary: Leecia Eve, Tish James, Sean Maloney, and Zephyr Teachout.
(And to get it out of the way: All four candidates say fighting President Donald Trump and his agenda, as well as protecting New Yorkers from his administration's policies, are top priorities for them.)
Leecia Eve served as deputy secretary of economic development in the Cuomo administration and as adviser to former Senator Hillary Clinton and then-Senator Joe Biden. She's an accomplished attorney and is currently Verizon's vice president of government affairs for New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.
Eve's website says she'll be an "independent advocate for all New Yorkers" on issues such as consumer protection, housing discrimination, safeguarding environmental resources, and defending citizens' fundamental rights. In forums, she's said she'll push for voting and campaign finance reforms and that she'll aggressively investigate public corruption.
Her backers include the Erie County Democratic Committee and the Cattaraugus County Democratic Committee.
Tish James has the backing of prominent Democrats across the state, everyone from Governor Andrew Cuomo to Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren. She is currently the New York City public advocate – a job roughly similar to that of an ombudsman – and she's a former New York City Council member.
As public advocate, she drafted legislation banning employers from asking about salary history and got City Council to pass it. As a New York City Council member, she introduced legislation that forced landlords to improve conditions in some of the city's worst housing, and she introduced legislation that substantially expanded the city's recycling program. Both of those measures passed.
James' platform includes protecting New Yorkers' constitutional, reproductive, and workplace rights. She says she'll be a watchdog on issues related to Wall Street and the gun industry.
Sean Maloney currently serves in the House of Representatives and was the first openly gay member of Congress from New York. But before that he was a senior adviser to President Bill Clinton and an adviser to former governors Eliot Spitzer and David Paterson.
He's released his plan to tackle public corruption, which includes pushing for ethics reform and statewide publicly funded campaigns, and seeking authority from the legislature for the AG's office to investigate corruption, ethical misconduct, and sexual misconduct by Albany lawmakers. He wants an overhaul of the state's ethics board, which also would require action by the Legislature.
Maloney has said he wants to investigate the NRA's status as a charitable organization; that he'll back the Department of Financial Services against the NRA, which is suing the agency over a decision prohibiting NRA-backed self-defense insurance for firearm owners; and that he'll ensure that the AG's Organized Crime Task Force investigates "straw purchasers and the illegal transfer of guns."
Zephyr Teachout rose to prominence in 2014 when she challenged Governor Cuomo in a Democratic primary and pulled in a surprising 37 percent of the vote. She's remained a favorite with progressives in the state and already scored a major victory by landing the New York Times' endorsement.
She's a Fordham University law professor who's well versed in constitutional law. On her campaign web page, she says she wants to take on corruption in Albany, battle "financial fraud and corporate scams," and lead the "moral argument against mass incarceration." She says she wants to focus on from breaking up corporate monopolies and lead the legal fight to abolish the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.