Keith Wofford, the Republican nominee for this year's New York State Attorney General race, brought his campaign to the town where he was born and raised Monday.
Wofford is seeking to take the office vacated by Eric Schneiderman, who resigned in disgrace following accusations of alleged abuse against women. Standing outside the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library downtown branch, he said he was given great opportunities in his life. Today's kids, he suggested, will only have those same opportunities when corruption is removed from state government.
Wofford told supporters that will require not just "token convictions" of one or two insiders but an overhaul of the state's "pay to play" system.
"Let's not kid ourselves. No insider to New York politics will ever do this," he said. "Someone from the outside's got to come in and simply clean house. The Republican Party recognized that reality, that you have to have an outsider, when they selected their nominee. And the Conservative Party recognized that same reality when they selected me as their nominee."
Wofford, who grew up on Winslow Avenue in Buffalo, is a City Honors and Harvard Law School graduate. Although he was nominated by New York State Republican delegates in late May, Wofford explained he wanted to make his first campaign stop in Buffalo.
"Yesterday my wife and two children came to town with my brother to celebrate the start of the campaign," he said. "We came together with dozens of our family members, many of whom are here today, to enjoy some time together and to celebrate a chance to make a change that my mother and father did not live to see."
Now working in Manhattan as a partner with international law firm Ropes & Gray, Wofford spoke of more humble roots while growing up. His late father worked for the Tonawanda Chevrolet plant for more than three decades. Wofford told supporters that he chose the library for his campaign kickoff because that is where his mother would bring him, by bus, on weekends.
In addition to family members, he was joined by Erie County Republican Committee chairman Nick Langworthy and Conservative Party chairman Ralph Lorigo. The latter did not speak but Langworthy, like Wofford, took aim at Albany corruption and a history of it among the past three men to hold the role of attorney general.
Langworthy also pointed out that the last Republican attorney general also came from the Buffalo area, Dennis Vacco, who edged out Karen Burstein in the 1994 race. He thinks Wofford is capable of pulling off a similar win, while making history as an African-American candidate.
"This is obviously a very historic opportunity for us and we're very excited about it," Langworthy said. "To support Keith Wofford, a proud son of Buffalo that brings a great Buffalo success story to this race, we couldn't be happier."
Wofford is not the only African-American candidate in the race. This past weekend, the Erie County Democratic Committee endorsed Buffalo attorney Leecia Eve. State Democrats have not yet nominated a candidate for November.
Barbara Underwood is currently serving as Acting Attorney General.