New York City’s mayoral hopefuls are ratcheting up attacks against one another as the June 22 Democrat 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.
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 Democrat primary, which will decide the next mayor in the heavily-democrat 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.
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.
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.
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.
After Bloomberg News reported that the next televised Democrat 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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