NYC Mayoral Race Turns Caustic as Vote Nears, Reopening Quickens

New York City’s mayoral hopefuls are ratcheting up attacks against one another as the June 22 Democratic primary fast approaches and the race becomes more competitive.

Former presidential contender Andrew Yang’s campaign filed an ethics complaint against Eric Adams with the city’s Campaign Finance Board, accusing the Brooklyn borough president of unlawfully receiving public matching funds. Adams then submitted a complaint against Yang, accusing him of violating city rules around contribution and spending limits.

NYC Mayoral Race Turns Caustic as Vote Nears, Reopening Quickens

This will be the first mayoral contest in the city decided by ranked-choice voting, a system that asks voters to rank their top five selections. Because voters get to express support for backup choices as well, it’s a method that’s supposed to discourage negative campaigning.

Instead, the race’s caustic turn suggests candidates are getting more desperate to reach voters with less than a month to go before the Democratic primary, which will decide the next mayor in the heavily-democratic city.

City comptroller Scott Stringer has been attacking both Yang and Adams for their multimillion dollar donations from billionaire-backed political action committees. Stringer’s campaign also released a video montage of gaffes by Yang calling out moments when he seemed out of touch with city issues.

Stringer, who has received support from the city’s largest teachers union, has also been criticizing Yang and Adams’ support from donors who back charter schools.

On Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city would end remote learning for public schools in September, taking an important step toward fully reopening the city following pandemic shutdowns. Teachers union president Michael Mulgrew praised the move to fully reopen schools but said the city should retain a remote option for students with health challenges.

War Chest

The city Campaign Finance board released the latest mayoral fundraising and spending tallies over the weekend, showing former Citigroup banker Ray McGuire leading the group with $11.7 million. Despite lagging in the polls, McGuire has also spent the most: $8.3 million. He now has $3.5 million to spend in the final weeks of the campaign.

Adams came in second with a total of $9.8 million raised, but he’s going into the last few weeks with more than $5.3 million to pay for television ads, mailers and other campaign events. Yang has $2.6 million left of $7.3 million raised and Stringer has $3.6 million left of $9 million raised. Former sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia only has $1.5 million left of $3.5 million raised.

On Monday, Yang received the endorsement from state senator John Liu, the city’s former comptroller who said he “confounded expectations” during a press conference outside City Hall. Civil rights lawyer Maya Wiley also got an endorsement Monday by New York Congresswoman Katie Porter.

Litmus Test

NYC Mayoral Race Turns Caustic as Vote Nears, Reopening Quickens

A key poll will be released on Wednesday from Core Decision Analytics and Fontas Advisors, a government affairs consultancy that has been conducting a series of polls since January and has served as a litmus test for the race.

A poll conducted May 13-15 by Emerson College and Pix11 showed Adams leading the field at 18%. Yang and Stringer each got 15% of respondents who ranked them first.

Floyd Anniversary

This week attention will focus on policing and race, as the eight leading candidates head to a mayoral forum on Tuesday moderated by Al Sharpton to mark the one-year anniversary of the May 25 police killing of George Floyd.

Despite calls to “defund the police” during many of the rallies last June, most of the mayoral candidates have since backed away from the phrase. A surge in violent crime has prompted frontrunner’s Adams and Yang to call for more police presence.

On Monday, mayoral hopeful Dianne Morales in an interview with Bloomberg Television said the first thing that needs to be done to tackle the rising crime crisis in New York City is to “recognize the link between the increase in crime rate and the increase in insecurity that New Yorker’s have experienced throughout the course of the pandemic.”

NYC Mayoral Race Turns Caustic as Vote Nears, Reopening Quickens

She said for crime to go down, the city has to address food insecurity and lack of health care.

“People’s individual lives have gotten increasingly insecure and I think that correlates directly to the increase in violence as people try to figure out how to survive,” Morales said.

In-Person Debate

After Bloomberg News reported that the next televised Democratic mayoral debate on June 2 would be held via Zoom, several candidates protested the decision and urged an in-person debate instead.

With most pandemic restrictions lifted, including a mask mandate for fully-vaccinated residents, six of the leading candidates said that if county fairs and music festivals were now deemed safe enough to host then “the same should be said about our democracy,” according to a joint letter to the city’s campaign finance board, which organizes the debates.

“New Yorkers face one of the most consequential elections in history, and they deserve and need to see the candidates debate in person,” the letter said. A spokeswoman for the local ABC station hosting the debate told the New York Times it would “review our options and report back.”

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