Brooklyn Councilman Jumaane Williams is jumping into the race for lieutenant governor, he said Monday.
In a speech marking Martin Luther King Day, Williams announced he’s forming an exploratory committee to eye a challenge to Gov. Cuomo’s number two, Kathy Hochul.
“The whole purpose of my candidacy is to become lieutenant governor, to push the issues that I care about, the issues that I don’t believe have been risen to the place that they should,” he told reporters at Salem Missionary Baptist Church in Flatbush.
The Brooklyn Democrat is a Cuomo critic who has been mentioned as a challenger to the governor — and said he still believes someone should run against Cuomo, but opted to instead go for the number two job himself.
“I’m running for lieutenant governor. If the governor wants to endorse me, he’s welcome to,” he said. “I think he’s earned a primary, so I hope he gets one.”
The governor and lieutenant governor run separately in a primary in New York but the winners of the primary — if there is one — run as a team in the general.
Williams could team up with a top of the ticket challenger to be named later — or, he said, could use the bully pulpit to push for change as Cuomo’s lieutenant governor.
The job comes with few formal powers.
“I’m very excited about the position of lieutenant governor. I don’t think I’ve seen many people use it in the way I’m thinking about it — lifting the voice, being in advocacy for many of the people who don’t have a voice now, and pushing issues that…haven’t been pushed,” Williams said.
“I’d love to do that with whomever the governor is.”
A campaign rep for Cuomo and Hochul did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Williams has been a leading proponent of police reform on the Council, and last week got arrested protesting the detention of immigrant rights activist Ravi Ragbir.
He ran for Council Speaker and lost, opting to skip the vote this month that ultimately elevated Corey Johnson and instead go to Cuomo’s State of the State.
Williams channeled King in his speech, criticizing pols who quote the civil rights icon but don’t follow in his path as a “disruptive, righteous agitator.”
“If you don’t understand the protest of today, I suggest you keep Martin Luther King out of your lips,” he said.