Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie had been on the verge of appointing former United States Attorney Preet Bharara as the State’s next Attorney General. But pressure from Governor Andrew Cuomo has thwarted that nomination, in favor of Cuomo’s desire to retain Acting AG Barbara Underwood until voters elect a replacement in November. Heastie, despite having the votes to fill the vacancy, is deferring to Cuomo’s preferred plan.
Prominent Democrats worry that such a robust and contested primary could cause party infighting and fractionalization that makes it more difficult to unite in the general election. It’s unclear if Bharara is willing to wage a primary contest; he sees himself as a professional prosecutor rather than a politician. For months his supporters have been encouraging him to seek the Governor’s office, seemingly to no avail.
New York Public Advocate Tish James, a Heastie friend who had lobbied doggedly for the Attorney General appointment, is preparing to enter the primary eminently; as is Mike Gianaris, a prominent Democrat Senator from Queens.
Zephyr Teachout, the former gubernatorial hopeful, is being encouraged by Cynthia Nixon and others on the left to seek the Attorney General’s office. Her expertise in public corruption and anti-trust law is nationally preeminent.