Emily’s List Backs Hochul for Governor in Key Early Endorsement

The timing of the endorsement by the group, known for making shrewd calculations about who it thinks can win, was conspicuous. It is likely to make ripples through the large field of high-profile Democrats mulling campaigns, including the state attorney general, Letitia James, who would be the first Black woman elected governor of any state.

In backing Ms. Hochul before others decide whether to enter the race, the group appeared to simultaneously signal that it believed she was the candidate best positioned to win and do its part to help keep others out of the race.

The endorsement stood in sharp contrast to many of New York’s most influential unions, campaign donors and other elected leaders, who appear to be withholding support until it becomes clearer whether Ms. James and other Democrats — including Mayor Bill de Blasio, Representative Tom Suozzi or Jumaane Williams, the New York City public advocate — decide to run.

The decision may be particularly stinging for Ms. James, who is generally viewed as Ms. Hochul’s most formidable potential opponent and whose investigation into claims of sexual harassment prompted Mr. Cuomo to resign. Emily’s List endorsed Ms. James’s campaign for attorney general in 2018, touting her as a candidate who “always had the back of every New Yorker, especially women.”

The group, however, has also endorsed Ms. Hochul in past races for lieutenant governor and for a seat in Congress.