Live NYC Mayoral Debate Could Change Dynamics of Race

Eight Democratic candidates vying to become New York’s next mayor will appear at their first live in-person debate on Wednesday as the campaign to lead the most populous U.S. city enters its final weeks.

Recent polls show a shift in momentum away from former presidential candidate and entrepreneur Andrew Yang, the early front-runner who benefited from name recognition. As Yang appeared to slip, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and former city Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia ascended.

Live NYC Mayoral Debate Could Change Dynamics of Race

Adams, a former NYPD captain, surpassed Yang in a poll released Wednesday by Core Decision Analytics and Fontas Advisers, a political consultancy. Adams’s good showing coincided with New Yorkers increasingly expressing concerns about a rise in shootings and homicides.

In a separate survey by Emerson College and Pix11 released late Tuesday, Garcia surged into first place after winning endorsements from the New York Times and the New York Daily News. The papers commended her record as a crisis manager and problem solver with deep government experience in housing, the environment, sanitation and feeding the hungry. Adams ran a close second, with 20% to Garcia’s 21%. Yang placed third at 16%.

Staff Shakeup

The campaign of nonprofit executive and political activist Dianne Morales has been thrown into turmoil. Even as she received $1.4 million in public matching funds, her campaign manager quit along with two high-level staffers amid complaints that Morales hadn’t removed some campaign workers accused of sexual harassment and racism.

Live NYC Mayoral Debate Could Change Dynamics of Race

The next day, Morales said she made a “swift decision” to fire two unnamed staffers “related to racially based biases and sexual harassment claims” -- conduct brought to her attention “in the last few weeks.” After campaign workers insisted they wanted to organize a union to protect their wages and working conditions, Morales said she “immediately told them they had my support.”

Morales is scheduled to debate seven rivals in person at a WABC-TV studio on Wednesday. The city Campaign Finance Board initially drew ire from candidates and good governance groups for wanting to host a virtual debate despite pandemic restrictions lifting. All candidates said they have been vaccinated.

All candidates accepting matching funds must participate in the debate. The event will begin at 7 p.m. and run for two hours on Bloomberg Radio and city-owned NYC TV Life, and for the first hour on WABC, Channel 7, before switching to the ABC7NY streaming platform.

Democrats outnumber Republicans by around 7-to-1 among voters in New York City, so the party is heavily favored to win the general election for mayor.

Republican Contest

Last Wednesday, the two Republicans competing in a primary on June 22 hurled insults at each other over a remote hook-up in a one-on-one debate broadcast on the local all-news cable channel, NY1. Curtis Sliwa, founder of the red beret-ed Guardian Angels, a self-described non-profit volunteer crime-prevention group, faced off against restaurateur Fernando Mateo.

Mateo, a self-styled advocate for cab drivers and bodega owners, called Sliwa a “compulsive liar” and “a clown” and questioned the Republican credentials of Sliwa, who switched parties last year. Mateo said he didn’t believe Donald Trump lost the 2020 presidential race. Sliwa focused on Mateo’s 2013 efforts to raise money for and attract donors to incumbent Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio, who’s unpopular with most city Republicans. The two raised their voices several times, often requiring technicians to mute their microphones.

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