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Manhattan lawyer Keith Wofford wins state GOP nod for attorney general


Republican candidate for attorney general Keith Wofford (c.) acknowledges delegates' applause at the New York state Republican Convention on May 24, 2018. (Richard Drew/AP)

State Republicans on Thursday threw their support behind little-known Manhattan lawyer Keith Wofford in the race for state attorney general.

Wofford, co-managing partner at Ropes & Gray's New York City office, received a clear majority of the votes during the GOP's nominating convention in Manhattan, besting former state Housing Commissioner Joseph Holland and upstate lawyer Randy Elf.

"I am going to seek justice without fear or favor because I will report only to you, the great citizens of New York," Wofford told the sparsely attended convention on its final day.

Although he received enough support to force a primary, Holland threw his support behind Wofford, calling the vote a milestone for the state GOP.

"This is a historic moment for the Republican Party to have two African American candidates, both Harvard Law School graduates, both attorneys in New York City, who were presented to the Republican Party leadership as candidates for attorney general," said Holland, who initially was running for governor but switched to attorney general after party leaders united behind Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro for that race.

State Democrats on Wednesday designated city Public Advocate Public Advocate Letitia James for attorney general as their nominee. She will likely face a primary challenge from Fordham Law Prof. Zephyr Teachout and former Gov. Cuomo and Hillary Clinton aide Leecia Eve.

Wofford pledged that his top priority as attorney general would be to root out the political corruption that has "plagued" New York's government. He also said he would seek to create a more "business friendly" climate while still ensuring the employers comply with all state laws.

Keith Wofford, co-managing partner at Ropes & Gray's New York City office, is running for state attorney general.
Keith Wofford, co-managing partner at Ropes & Gray's New York City office, is running for state attorney general. (Richard Drew/AP)

In an apparent swipe at so-called sanctuary policies, Wofford said it was wrong for individual states to make up their own immigration laws and he vowed to uphold the nation's laws and that "those who commit crimes will be dealt (with) to the fullest extent of the law regardless of their status."

A Buffalo native, Wofford was a late entry into the race for attorney general, entering only after Democrat Eric Schneiderman resigned earlier this month because of allegations he abused women.

Wofford's campaign picked up steam after former Pataki administration official John Cahill — who ran for the post in 2014 — decided not to run again. He also received a boost on Wednesday when state GOP Chairman Ed Cox endorsed his candidacy.

His path to the nomination was further eased when one leading candidate, Manhattan attorney Manny Alicandro, dropped out and opted to run for controller.

Alicandro, however, later withdrew his name from the race for controller, allowing the party to back Jonathan Trichter, a former Democrat who recently registered as a Republican to take on incumbent Democrat Thomas DiNapoli.