IIt’s hard to pick a favorite moment from New York’s mayoral race, which enters its final stage of the primaries this week. It could be the episode where two candidates, Shaun Donovan and Ray McGuire, were asked to guess the median home price in Brooklyn and you answered $ 100,000, which would have been correct in 1985. (For those operating in 2021, the correct answer is $ 900,000.)
It could have been the implosion of the campaign by Dianne Morales, the most progressive candidate by far, predictably destroyed from within when employees complained that she had created a “hostile” environment and that the job, presumably stuffing envelopes, was “repetitive and unstructured”. In the meantime, it’s hard not to love the story that still unfolds around Eric Adams, Brooklyn Borough President and current frontrunner in the primaries, and thus the election – secretly living in New Jersey.
The mayoral race in America’s largest city has always been an odd combination of national and parochial politics, a magnet for nutters and con artists as well as Bloomberg-style billionaires. Four of New York’s last six mayors have been Democrats (Republican voters are outnumbered six to one in the city) and most of the coverage is in the Democratic field; This year, not even the right-wing New York Post bothered to endorse a candidate in the Republican primaries.
Still, even among Democrats it can be difficult to get New Yorkers to pay attention to the race long before the final elections. A few months ago, the only name-recognition candidate and the initial pioneer was Andrew Yang, the former presidential candidate and CEO of a variety of failed startups, who is running with the “visionary” ticket, and about who has ever sought to be chosen for something remains a mystery.
Yang’s advantage suffered during the pandemic, when it emerged that he had left the city for his second home in the north of the state. For a heated second, Scott Stringer, the 61-year-old New York City comptroller and the most experienced politician in the field, slipped into first place, until two indictments of sexual misconduct emerged (denies them) and that was the end of it.
And so we come to the part of the campaign represented by Eric Adams’ fridge. New Yorkers will tolerate, even celebrate, a certain eccentricity in their mayor; look at the enduring affection for Ed Koch, the Democratic mayor of the late 70s and 80s whose theatricality made him love even as the city sank into bankruptcy. Anthony Weiner, the disgraced candidate in the 2013 race, got a second chance after his sexting shenanigans based largely on the strength of your personality.
Adams, 60, a police officer before going into politics, is not a showman in this style. However, the fact that the biggest scandal of his candidacy for office has been so entertaining has probably helped his campaign more than it hampered it. Two weeks ago, in a move worthy of Matt Hancock, Adams invited the press to his apartment in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, in an effort to stamp out rumors that he actually lived in Fort Lee, New Jersey. Reporters scanned the scene and noted, despite Adams’ dietary preferences, the number of non-vegan items in his refrigerator (salmon, dairy) and the presence of slippers that seemed to belong Adams’ adult son Jordan. If his judgment is wrong, the main conclusion of the episode was the stupidity of inviting a reporter to his house, Adams came out looking relatively chaotic.
There has never been a mayor of New York. By far the sanest candidate, endorsed by the New York Times and behind Adams in the polls, is Kathryn Garcia, former head of the city’s sanitation department and popular on both the left and right of the party. She has not been involved in any scandals, except for her brilliant hobby. campaign video in which, after uttering a few lines in a monotonous tone in the style of Ingmar Bergman, he broke a sheet of glass stamped with In Case of Emergency Break Glass and walked away in a leather jacket straight from a Heart video from the 80s.
Garcia’s weakness is one that he often pursues competent women flanked in politics by flamboyant and incompetent men: his public persona is not “funny.” It is serious and impressive. In some fledgling way, someone who knows New York’s sewers, and the 10,000 public service workers who maintain them, would seem to know the city on an unmatched level. And yet a quick look at Bill de Blasio, the current mayor and a man the city unites to despise, reminds us that serious and impressive don’t always win. De Blasio appeared last week to illustrate how ranking voting works by showing a chart of your favorite pizza toppings. (Number one: green peppers. The man is a mess).
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism