By Nick Field
If you’re one of the rare people that misses the chaos of the 2020 campaign, the 2021 Democratic primary for Mayor of New York has exactly what you need.
It’s not just political junkies and NYC press outlets that are making this jump either, as Andrew Yang effortlessly switched from one stage to the next.
Yang the Front-Runner
The self-styled entrepreneur continues to hold a solid lead in the polls, with 22% of respondents identifying him as their first choice. Yang is maintaining this advantage despite facing the exponentially increasing scrutiny that comes with being a front-runner.
Last weekend, for example, the New York Times examined Yang’s claim that his Venture for America initiative created thousands of jobs. The Times could only find about 150 employees working for businesses connected to Yang’s group. Rather than building up businesses, the piece painted an Andrew Yang whose primary focus and accomplishment was burnishing his own brand.
Such a story could be especially damaging for Yang, as it portrays his trademark enthusiasm as opportunistic. At this moment, however, there’s another contender in far more jeopardy.
April began as a promising month for New York’s Comptroller. Stringer was the subject of a few mainly positive profiles which made the case that voters just might turn to the experienced pol as the June 22nd contest neared. At the same time, Stringer saw a climb in the polls that brought him up to second-place in the averages.
That all changed on April 28th when lobbyist Jean Kim accused Stringer of sexually assaulting her in 2001. Stringer vociferously denied the charges, claiming they’d been in a consensual relationship.
In the wake of the allegation, numerous groups and officials who’d endorsed Stringer rescinded their support. The most significant of these entities was the Working Families Party, an influential progressive group in New York. After once looking like he’d lock up the left, Stringer’s campaign is now suddenly in real danger of collapsing.
The Adams Conundrum
With Stringer set to fade, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams has a golden opportunity to finally make a move towards the top.
On paper, Adams seems like the perfect candidate for this moment. At a time when America is re-examining its fraught racial history, Adams is the most prominent Black candidate. With the city’s establishment looking for a tested politician to compete with Yang, Adams has extensive political experience. As Democrats fret over being labeled the anti-police party, Adams is a former NYPD officer.
So why isn’t Adams leading this race?
One possible answer is his unique personality. Unlike most experienced politicians, Adams embraces his idiosyncrasies, even at the risk of putting off potential voters. The quintessential example is that instead of bridging the divides on issues around policing, his blunt language can sometimes exacerbate them.
Adams also has an ego that’s healthy even for a politician. Take, for instance, his answer when asked about his favorite New York City author. Adams instead starts describing the process of writing his own book, before eventually asserting that “at this time I’m at the top of my list of favorite writers.”
The next debate is set for May 13th, and the hope is that the candidates will be able to attend in person. Maya Wiley and Dianne Morales are currently best positioned to take Stringer’s place as the progressive favorite. Shaun Donovan, Kathryn Garcia and Raymond McGuire will all be looking for their own break-out moments. The May 13th encounter is only the first of three more scheduled debates, with the latter two coming on June 2nd and 16th. I’ll be keeping an eye on it all, so look forward to more updates on this fascinating race in the weeks to come!
Nick Field (@nick_field90) is a Contributor to Decision Desk HQ