Leticia “Tish” James, the public advocate for the city of New York, has told people in recent days that she intends to run for New York City mayor in 2021, according to two sources familiar with the communication.
Asked in a text message by BuzzFeed News if the rumors were true — that she made her intentions known to a small cadre of supporters — James texted back, “No comment.”
A spokesperson for James, however, did not deny that she has reached out to supporters.
“Tish is focused on continuing her work to be an effective public advocate, standing up for working families and the most vulnerable New Yorkers,” the spokesperson told BuzzFeed News in an email.
Her potentially running wouldn’t be a shocking development in New York City politics. Bill de Blasio, who was re-elected mayor last year, was formerly the city’s public advocate. The office is widely viewed as a launching pad for politicians with designs on Gracie Mansion, and the public advocate is first in line to succeed the mayor. If elected, James would be the first black woman mayor of New York City.
Her early missives do appear to be a signal that James is eager to get the wheels turning on a contentious mayoral primary, even if it’s years away. Formidable candidates could include Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., current New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, and possibly even Rep. Hakeem Jeffries., a Brooklyn Democrat currently serving in Congress.
In a brief conversation with BuzzFeed News in Washington last September, James said she looked forward the next step in her career, suggesting that while she understood questions surrounding her possible candidacy for mayor, she was not yet prepared to talk openly about it.
It’s not stopping people in New York from needling her, however. Last month, James spoke at Rev. Al Sharpton’s annual MLK Day celebration, a must-stop for the New York’s political elite. According to a source who was present, longtime observers and friends of hers took turns, half-jokingly, referring to her as “Madame Mayor.”