Republican Keith Wofford launches outsider campaign for New York AG in native Buffalo

June 4, 2018

The Buffalo News

By Stephen T. Watson

Republican Keith Wofford launched his campaign for New York attorney general on Monday in his native Buffalo with a blistering attack on the office’s recent occupants and a vow to clean up Albany.

Wofford, an attorney in private practice in Manhattan, touted his political inexperience as an asset.

“Corruption is wrong, and it must be stopped. But it cannot stop unless we stop electing insiders, political climbers and hacks as attorney general of this state,” he said at a campaign event outside the Buffalo & Erie County Central Library.

Wofford, who grew up on the East Side and graduated from City Honors School, said the values he learned from his parents would serve him well as the state’s top lawyer.

Wofford is the GOP nominee in the race to replace Eric T. Schneiderman, who resigned in early May after a sexual abuse scandal. He won the Republican nod at the party’s statewide convention last month. He is the first African-American nominated by the Republicans to run for attorney general.

The last Republican to hold the job, Dennis Vacco, also was from Western New York. His term ended in 1998.

Vacco was succeeded by three Democrats: Eliot Spitzer, who later served as governor before resigning in disgrace; Andrew Cuomo, now the governor; and Schneiderman.

Wofford did not actively seek the nomination until after Schneiderman’s resignation. Republicans now see an opportunity with the incumbent’s departure.

Democrats have not settled on their nominee for attorney general, but one candidate is Leecia Eve, another attorney who is from Buffalo.

Wofford, who has not previously held elected office, works as a managing partner of the New York City office of a global law firm.

He said the state’s “pay-to-play system” hurts taxpayers by sending the cost of government soaring and by driving business away from New York.

Wofford said he wanted to launch his campaign at the Central Library because he visited so often with his mother when he was a child.

“For me, this is where it all started,” he said.

Wofford was joined at the campaign event by his wife, his two young children, two of his cousins from Buffalo, Erie County Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy and Erie County Conservative Chairman Ralph Lorigo.

“Keith Wofford is a great Buffalo success story,” Langworthy said in introducing the candidate.