Assemblyman Danny O'Donnell and a dozen other candidates over the next two days will be interviewed by the Senate and Assembly, hoping to receive a legislative appointment for the job of attorney general.
"It's primarily a defense job," said O'Donnell (D - Manhattan). "Many people talk about the small component of a prosecutor's job. It's mainly a defense job."
O'Donnell, along with Assemblyman Tom Abinanti, are the only state lawmakers on the list that includes former Congresswoman Liz Holtzman, a former aide to ex-Gov. Eliot Spitzer, as well as Leecia Eve, a former economic development official in the Cuomo administration.
"I don't think there is a best route," O'Donnell said. "It's the route the Constitution gives us. I took an oath of office. I promise to uphold the constitution. The constitution says the legislature will pick the replacement, and that's what we're doing now."
O'Donnell says he would be able to investigate his colleagues if appointed to the job, and he'd focus on issues like affordable housing. And, if appointed, he would run for the job outright.
"If I was appointed by the legislature, would I run for re-election? Indeed I would," he said. "Would I run for the position if they didn't? I don't think I would."
The process begins Tuesday, with Acting Attorney General Barbara Underwood to be interviewed first. Underwood is the favorite for some who say her appointment provides continuity to the office. But Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie says lawmakers should not be pressured into a preferred candidate.
"For those calling on us to just affirm her without us being deliberate, I think it's unfortunate," Heastie said. "It's like hiring someone based on their resume. We want to interview her just like any other person."
Governor Andrew Cuomo has all but endorsed Underwood keeping the job, and she is the preferred candidate of Republicans in the Senate. But Heastie insists the legislature needs to fill the vacancy.
"People should stop asking the legislature not to do the job the constitution gave them," Heastie said.
Not interviewing include likely candidates to run for AG, including public advocate Tish James, Senator Mike Gianaris and former gubernatorial and congressional candidate Zephyr Teachout.