By Natasha Shapiro
The end of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s term leaves a crowded field in the race to become the 110th mayor of the most populous city in the United States. With less than six months left until the June primaries, over 30 mayoral hopefuls have already filed campaign papers.
Candidates vying for the Democratic nomination include Andrew Yang, a former presidential candidate and the founder of the Humanity Forward Foundation, Eric Adams, the Brooklyn Borough President, Scott Stringer, the City Comptroller, Raymond J. McGuire, a former CitiGroup executive, and Maya Wiley, a former top legal counsel for Mayor Bill de Blasio and MSNBC contributor. Adams and Stringer, both of whom emerged as the presumed frontrunners due to name recognition and relationships with party leaders, remain the fundraising leaders with $8.6 million and $8.3 million raised, respectively, as of January 15.
Yang has emerged as another frontrunner after gaining popularity and name recognition through his 2020 presidential campaign.
Yang ran his ultimately unsuccessful campaign on promises of establishing a universal basic income, which is a program that provides every adult citizen with a fixed minimum income. During his presidential bid, he gained a small but enthusiastic following that has given him an advantage in this competitive race.
Despite his strong following, Yang has faced plenty of criticism for various blunders. Yang justified his choice to flee the city during the early days of the pandemic by claiming that his two-bedroom apartment was too small for his family of four. This tone-deaf explanation angered many New Yorkers who suffered through the pandemic under worse conditions but were unable to afford more comfortable living situations. More controversy surrounding Yang arose in early February when women who worked on his presidential campaign went public with claims of a toxic work environment that fostered a “bro culture” and required staffers to sign NDAs. While Yang publicly apologized these allegations may hurt his popularity in the long run.
McGuire, a Harvard alum and former vice-chair of Citigroup with no prior political experience, shocked his opponents back in mid-January with the announcement that his campaign raised over $5 million in only three months- making his campaign the third most funded. McGuire’s fundraising success can be attributed to his extensive network of wealthy associates such as former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz. In fact, at least 20 billionaires are featured on Mcguire’s donor list, with the average contribution to his campaign equaling about $1,100.
Wiley’s campaign funds, on the other hand, are built on smaller donations, which average only $50. Though this average is less than that of other candidates, these donations have totaled over $715,000 as of January 15. Wiley, a civil rights lawyer, has focused her campaign on social and criminal justice issues. While she has garnered support, her campaign may be hurt by her close ties to the very unpopular Mayor DeBlasio.
Other Democratic candidates with less publicity and fundraising success include Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, New York City Veterans’ Services Commissioner Loree Sutton, City Councilmember Carlos Menchaca, and nonprofit CEO Dianne Morales.
As for the Republican field, the most prominent candidate to announce a run is Curtis Sliwa. Silwa is best known as the founder of the nonprofit volunteer organization “Guardian Angels,” which was created in 1979 to serve as civilian patrol intended to protect New Yorkers against rampant subway crime. With New York being the 8th most liberal city in the country, the Republican primary winner will likely have to overcome more challenges than the Democratic nominee in order to win the general election and become mayor.
With the city hurting from the economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, this unpredictable race will undoubtedly determine the future of New York City.