Asian-born businessman, ex-black policeman and white public servant are so far favorites for the New York mayoral election and reflect the diversity of the largest and most important city in the states -United.
Democratic Party affiliates Andrew Yang, Eric Adams and Kathryn Garcia are giving a hard time to the dispute, which in recent days has taken unpredictable contours and turned monotonous virtual debates into deliberate public attacks.
On June 22, Democrats and Republicans will choose their official candidates for the November election. But in a largely progressive city – with large communities of blacks and immigrants – whoever wins Joe Biden’s party primaries must also be elected to replace current mayor Bill de Blasio.
The new leader will have the challenge of recovering the city from the effects of the pandemic and the crises that overlap with issues of economy, inequality and public safety – this is the main topic of the dispute today. However, the way forward is marked by new voting rules, inaccurate polls and allegations of sexual harassment and violations of fundraising laws.
With 8.3 million inhabitants, New York is home to Wall Street, the financial center of the United States, and has a very diverse population: 32.1% white, 24.3% black, 29.1% Latino and 14.1% Asian. The 15 candidates who will make it to the primaries in three weeks – 13 Democrats and 2 Republicans – reflect the variety of that demographics.
Among Biden’s supporters who want to reach New York City Hall, there are four black men, two Asians and three whites, in addition to four women, three of whom are black. Out of the limelight, but still struggling to be the face of Republicans in the dispute for the country’s largest city, are two men, one of Latin descent.
Despite the diversity and progressive backgrounds of New Yorkers, the names at the top of the polls come from moderate profiles of the Democratic Party. Obstacles in the wing that elected MP Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in 2018 range from the reaction to the current mayor, who won with the support of this electorate, to a new wave of violent crimes, which has sparked calls to a strengthening of the police. Aggravating factor, the accusation of sexual harassment against Scott Stringer, the main candidate linked to the progressive left, who moved the support council and changed the poll numbers.
Until March, the frontrunner was Andrew Yang, a tech entrepreneur, with his upbeat speech and popularity bolstered by his White House pre-bid last year. Former New York Police Department captain and now Brooklyn District President Eric Adams and City Comptroller Chief Stringer followed in a race that seemed static.
In late April, a former Stringer employee claimed he attempted to kiss and fiddle with her without her consent during a campaign in 2001. The Democrat denies the allegations and said he had a consensual romantic relationship with the wife.
The political consequences of the affair, however, were immediate. Town’s most powerful Latino MP Adriano Espaillat withdrew his support for Stringer and became a fan of Adams, who solidified in second place – Latinos make up around 20% of the vote in the Democratic primary .
Meanwhile, progressives Maya Wiley, professor and former advisor to Bill de Blasio, and Dianne Morales, nonprofit executive, are trying to fill the gap left by Stringer, but they have yet to take off.
The most recent change on the chessboard was the take-off of Kathryn Garcia, former head of the New York City Sanitation Department under Blasio. She gained editorial support from the New York Times and the New York Daily News and appeared as a leader in one of the local polls last week.
The polls are flawed for various reasons – voting is not compulsory in the United States – and even pundits have not ventured to say who should win the Democratic nomination on June 22.
The new preliminary rule that allows voters to vote for a maximum of 5 candidates – in order of preference and with several rounds of eliminating the least voted – also allows for sudden and last minute changes, much of the electorate won’t still not choosing or even your first choice.
The uncertainties widened the circle of Democrats, who spoke in the press. One of the main targets, Yang has run out of steam in recent days after a series of blunders that reinforce criticism that he has little knowledge of the city and no experience in the civil service. The businessman was confused or did not know the answers to several questions from journalists on the functioning of the agencies and the laws of the municipality.
His opponents also claim that Yang accepts donations from millionaires in exchange for favors, violating campaign finance rules, which he denies.
In contrast, the businessman accused Adams of adopting this type of practice, after a New York Times article revealed that the former policeman was mixing the money raised with other political ambitions, mainly in the real estate sector.
Adams also denies the allegations, while Yang says the attacks he receives are racist. “Some of my opponents in this race describe some of us as being more New Yorkers than others,” Yang said at a campaign event.
Despite the little impact on the legislative elections, the feud between the Republican candidates follows a harsh scenario. Last week, political novices Curtis Sliwa, founder of anti-violence NGO Anjos da Guarda, and businessman Fernando Mateo led a debate in which they disagreed on almost everything and saw their microphones cut off at different times by the moderator.
Next Wednesday (2), it will be the turn of the main Democratic candidates to meet in an expected face-to-face. Amid the turbulent and imponderable race, the event could define for voters the only local dispute closely watched in the entire country.