With Attorney General Tish James announcing that she will be running for re-election rather than for governor, the ground has shifted in New York for those seeking the state’s highest office. 

According to Grant Reeher, director of the Campbell Public Affairs Institute and professor of political science at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi is likely more of a threat to incumbent Kathy Hochul than New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.

“First of all, we have to realize that this is not going to be the same election that she ran against Williams in 2018,” Reeher said of the lieutenant governor’s race in which Williams garnered 46.7% to Hochul’s 53.3% of the Democratic primary vote. “She is now the governor. Her numbers against Tish James in polling were very strong.”

Reeher said that for Williams to gain traction, he would need to articulate a case for why Hochul shouldn’t be re-elected, or point to some poor decision-making on her part around an issue like COVID-19.

“He would have to be saying, we need to do these additional restrictions; we need to take these additional governmental measures. And even in a state like New York, that’s a tough case to make,” Reeher said.

Reeher’s “bet” is that the final Democratic ticket going into November will look a lot like Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs’ dream: Hochul, Benjamin, James, DiNapoli. 

“What’s leaving me scratching my head, and we haven’t talked about this, is how the Republicans are positioning themselves for this gubernatorial race,” he said. “I just don’t see how anyone is going to be competitive with any association with Donald Trump, but they seem to be headed that way, so Hochul’s path keeps looking better and better.”