Letitia James declares intent to run for NY state attorney general

Public Advocate Letitia James avoids interim AG spot after Eric Schneiderman firing fearing impact on full term

Public Advocate Letitia James seems to be holding out for the full four-year term as Attorney General

Schneiderman resigned last week following a report by The New Yorker magazine that he physically abused four women he had dated.

Acting Attorney General Barbara Underwood is considered by some to be the favorite to serve out the remainder of disgraced former Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's term.

Public Advocate Letitia James has filed papers with the state Board of Elections declaring her intention to run for attorney general in the fall.

The State Legislature on Tuesday was scheduled to begin interviewing more than a dozen candidates to fill the role on an interim basis until December 31, when Schneiderman's term ends.

One tumultuous week later, Underwood was the first applicant Tuesday to face questions from the bipartisan, bicameral committee of the Legislature, chaired by Democrat Assemblyman Joseph Lentol. "We want to interview her and every other person".

Without mentioning her predecessor by name, 73-year-old Underwood acknowledged the unusual circumstances that triggered the office's vacancy.

"I think it's an understatement to say that none of us expected to be sitting here today for this goal", Underwood told senators and Assembly members gathered Tuesday at a meeting room in the state Capitol complex. "The result is that this important office is vacant at a critical time for our state and country".

"I think all that will help me do this job", Underwood said.

"And I am not a politician", Underwood added.

She said some people joke that the National Association of Attorneys General is actually the "National Association of Aspiring Governors". "There's some truth to that, but I can assure you that is not who I am".

Underwood said she has no plans to run for attorney general in November, which she said makes her a better option for the position now during the interim period. "It would be a much quicker and easier transition for than for someone who needed to get up to speed on all of that".

Among those who have spoken positively of Underwood, a Democrat, is Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, a Suffolk County Republican.

The state Legislature began interviewing candidates to replace Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who resigned over a domestic violence scandal. Underwood, the solicitor general who is serving as acting attorney general, led off.

Eleven others are asking to be named interim attorney general. One of these, Nicole Gueron, is a founding partner at Clarick Gueron Reisbaum LLP. Republicans have criticized Cuomo for chiming in on the attorney general selection process, saying the state's top legal agency must remain independent from the governor's office. O'Donnell of Manhattan, actress Rosie O'Donnell's brother, and Elizabeth Holtzman, a former congresswoman and New York City comptroller. After today's session, the interview process is expected to continue at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

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