Photo by Michael Shain
State Sen. Michael Gianaris decides against running for Attorney General in November to focus on the drive for a Democratic majority in the state Senate.
By Bill Parry

State Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) announced he would not run for state attorney general this fall and he has thrown his support behind Public Advocate Letitia James, who announced her candidacy last week.

“I think I would have been very good at that job, fighting the special interests for the people of New York as attorney general,” Gianaris said. “At the same time, I understand the need for women in positions of power is so great. I respect and appreciate that and I felt it was time to endorse Tish James.”

Gianaris also made his decision to remain in the Senate so he could continue as chairman of the state Senate Democrats’ campaign arm, the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee.

“The other side of the coin is I’ve fought for years to regain a Democratic majority in the state Senate and here we are just a hair’s breadth away from the majority,” Gianaris said.

Democrats need to pick up one seat this November to take control of the upper chamber. Gianaris could not have remained chairman of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee if he had run for attorney general.

“If I’m in the leadership of the majority with Andrea Stewart-Cousins as the Senate majority leader and Tish James as attorney general, I’ll feel very comfortable with the decision I made,” Gianaris said.

The Harvard Law School graduate has represented the neighborhoods of Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside, Woodhaven, Ridgewood and Astoria, where he was born and still resides, in the Senate since 2010 after having served for 10 years in the state Assembly.

“We have a lot of challenges in western Queens with needs for services and infrastructure in our growing neighborhoods,” Gianaris said. “And I am very proud to continue as its state senator.”

It was not the first time Gianaris mulled a run for attorney general.

“I explored running in 2008, but a guy named Andrew Cuomo got in the race,” he said. “And it became unfeasible.”

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

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