Barbara Underwood the favorite as interviews for Eric Schneiderman's replacement begin

NY Acting Attorney General Barbara Underwood

A state legislator from Central New York will play a leading role in selecting a successor to former Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who resigned last week after a report that he physically assaulted four women.

It's up to the state Legislature, however, to pick someone to fill out Schneiderman's term, which expires at the end of the year.

But she won't have to contend with Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-LI), who announced Tuesday she would be running for re-election instead.

"But we are here, after deeply disturbing allegations that shocked me and many others, and that caused the prior attorney general to resign", Underwood said.

The Cold Spring Democrat had been listed among 16 attorney-general prospects that a panel of state lawmakers was scheduled to interview in Albany on Tuesday and Wednesday as part of the Legislature's selection of an interim appointment.

Underwood went first and loomed large over the entire day of interviews. "I've argued 20 cases in the U.S. Supreme Court, 21 cases before our state's highest court, and 33 cases in the Second Circuit - and I've closely supervised the work of other attorneys on hundreds more".

NY Acting Attorney General Barbara Underwood
View Slideshow NY Acting Attorney General Barbara Underwood Karen DeWitt

Underwood said she has no plans to run for attorney general in November, which she said makes her a better option for the position now during the interim period.

Thomas Abinanti, the next applicant whom the committee considered Tuesday, joked that the room had already cleared out, and that the state "could do a lot worse" than Underwood.

She said some people joke that the National Association of Attorneys General is actually the "National Association of Aspiring Governors".

Among those considering a run this fall are New York City Public Advocate Tish James, a Democrat who did not put her name in contention for the temporary position.

A spokeswoman for the attorney general's office tells News 12 that they are well within their legal right to pursue the charges.

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