New York City Public Advocate and Brooklyn local Jumaane Williams has announced his run for governor of New York.

In his announcement to run, which was accompanied by a video, Williams said he had spent his life fighting for and creating change on behalf of the people – “in the streets and in the halls of governmen​​t.”

“Public service is about meeting people where they are, and delivering what they need. In this moment, I believe we need bold, principled progressive leadership in Albany to move our state forward with justice and equity, no matter the political winds,” he said.

Williams, who has served as the public advocate since 2019, is a Democrat and member of the Democratic Socialists of America who formerly represented Brooklyn’s 45th district in the City Council. In 2018, Williams mounted a progressive insurgent primary campaign for lieutenant governor, winning a majority in New York City and garnering 47% of the vote statewide.

His announcement comes just weeks after Attorney General Letitia James announced her run for governor, opening the race but complicating it for left-leaning Democratic voters. Both James, who is a member of the Working Families Party, and Williams are expected to run on progressive policies to the left of incumbent Governor Kathy Hochul, posing the possibility of splitting the more left-leaning vote.

Already, top Democrats are considering who to back in what will no doubt be a very competitive race. Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, chairwoman of the Brooklyn Democratic Party, told The New York Times that although she would prefer not to have “two friends from Brooklyn running against each other,” she would be backing James.

“It’s a historical time for the state to have a woman, and it would be even more historical to have a Black woman, so I think this is the year of the woman for the state.”

However, Brad Lander, the New York City comptroller-elect, told The New York Times that while both James and Williams were “really compelling leaders,” he would be backing Williams.

“I’m supporting Jumaane because I think he has real potential to fire people up,” he said, adding “it’s important for progressives to get on the same page in the governor’s race and to rally around one candidate.”

Williams, who became the first elected official in the nation with Tourette Syndrome, has a strong focus on housing affordability and housing justice, public safety, gun violence prevention, and racial and economic equity.

During his time in public office, he said he has passed 68 bills into law, including legislation to curb the abuses of stop and frisk, to ban the box on job applications, to promote sustainable infrastructure and to protect against discrimination on the basis of reproductive health decisions.

“There is a movement building in New York. A courageous progressive movement that challenges the powerful – and helps restore that power to the people. A movement I’m proud to be a part of,” Williams said.

“Because without courageous progressive leadership, the way things have always been will stand in the way of what they can be.”

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Anna Bradley-Smith

Anna Bradley-Smith is Brooklyn-based reporter with bylines in NBC, VICE, Slate and others. Follow her on Twitter @annabradsmith.

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