Adams Gets Boost With Latino Voters: 5 Takeaways From Mayor’s Race

With just over four weeks left before the New York mayoral primary — and with in-person early voting set to begin on June 12 — the leading Democratic candidates are racing to distinguish themselves in an election that has so far remained relatively static, according to the limited polling available.

The two front-runners, Andrew Yang and Eric Adams, both made news this week, but for different reasons: Mr. Yang, a former presidential hopeful, made a series of gaffes that seemed to highlight one of his critics’ most frequent complaints — that he has parachuted into the mayor’s race with little knowledge of the city and no government experience.

Meanwhile, Mr. Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, continued to gain steam, picking up a critical endorsement from one of the city’s most powerful Latino politicians and gaining the lead in another public poll.

Adams gets second dibs on an influential endorsement

In the messy aftermath of Jean Kim’s sexual harassment allegations against Scott M. Stringer, the city comptroller and a leading mayoral candidate, Representative Adriano Espaillat, the most powerful Dominican-American politician in New York City, signed a terse joint statement rescinding his endorsement of Mr. Stringer.

A scramble ensued, with several leading candidates courting Mr. Espaillat for his endorsement — a rush that ended Sunday when Mr. Adams traveled to Washington Heights, in the heart of Mr. Espaillat’s district, to receive the congressman’s formal embrace.

Mr. Espaillat said he got into politics after witnessing someone shot in the head on a city street. Gun violence is again on the rise in New York City, and Mr. Espaillat said he is endorsing Mr. Adams, a former police captain, because “we don’t want that happening again.”

Mr. Espaillat has helped several acolytes win office, including, most recently, his former campaign staffer Oswald Feliz, who won a competitive race for the Bronx City Council seat once occupied by Representative Ritchie Torres.

“For Eric, the Espaillat endorsement, this is better than mangú,” said Eli Valentin, a political analyst for Univision, referring to the Dominican dish of mashed plantains. “I don’t think there’s anyone else among Latinos that has that influence within the Latino electorate.”

The Latino vote is estimated to make up 20 percent of the Democratic primary vote, Mr. Valentin said. The congressman’s backing is expected to matter more than that of many other powerful city politicians, in part because it comes with Mr. Espaillat’s team of loyal supporters who can help get out the vote.

“At a time when the machine style of politics has been waning, Mr. Espaillat has built a machine of his own that can move votes,” said John DeSio, who once directed communications for the Bronx borough president, Ruben Diaz Jr.

Andrew Yang’s rough week

Mr. Yang has characterized himself as a political outsider, someone who will not be beholden to special interests and who would be open to new ways of getting things done. Although he has been leading in many polls, that outsider image has inspired criticism that he doesn’t know enough about New York to be mayor.

That critique came into focus last week when Mr. Yang fumbled or didn’t know the answers to several questions about city government and policy.

On Thursday, Julia Marsh, a reporter from The New York Post, asked if he agreed with last year’s repeal of 50-a, a law that shielded the disciplinary records of police officers from public view.

“The repeal of 50-a?” Mr. Yang asked.

“Do you know what 50-a is?” Ms. Marsh asked.

Mr. Yang stumbled over an incorrect response before Edwin Raymond, a New York Police Department lieutenant who is running for the City Council, explained the law.

On the same day, Mr. Yang said during a forum on homelessness that it would be “extraordinarily helpful” to “have specific shelters for victims of domestic violence who are often fleeing from an abusive partner and is a distinct population with distinct needs.”

The moderator, the NY1 anchor Courtney Gross, quickly pointed out that there are already a number of domestic violence shelters in the city, but that the issue has been capacity.

“Oh, no, of course they do exist,” Mr. Yang said.

Earlier in the week, Mr. Yang was also criticized for his proposal for the city to take control of the subway and bus system, which some saw as being light on details.

Chris Coffey, Mr. Yang’s co-campaign manager, said Mr. Yang misspoke when addressing domestic violence shelters and that he had been briefed on the issues around 50-a several times. Mr. Coffey said his candidate understood the issues, but that doesn’t mean he knows “every piece of terminology or the debt limit for the M.T.A.”

Mr. Yang’s opponents pounced on the missteps.

“Andrew Yang’s ignorance of critical issues facing our city isn’t just insulting — it’s dangerous,” said Mr. Stringer, whose campaign also trolled Mr. Yang with a video of the perceived gaffes.

How ranked-choice voting could play out

Under ranked-choice voting, winning the most votes in the first round does not necessarily mean a candidate will win the election — contenders near the top could still triumph if they get more second- and third-choice votes than the first-round winner.

That could conceivably happen in next month’s Democratic primary. A new poll by Public Opinion Strategies for the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank, shows how the winner could be determined in 11 rounds with surprising twists and turns.

Ranked-choice voting will allow New Yorkers to rank up to five mayoral candidates in order of preference. The Board of Elections will eliminate the last-place finisher among the candidates. If a voter’s first choice was eliminated, then their second choice vote will be counted. And so on until a winner emerges.

In the poll, Mr. Yang received the most votes in the first round, at 22 percent, followed closely by Mr. Adams. But once voters’ ranked choices were tallied, and candidates with less support were cut, Mr. Adams came out on top with 52 percent of votes, compared with 48 percent for Mr. Yang.

Understand the N.Y.C. Mayoral Race

    • Who’s Running for Mayor? There are more than a dozen people still in the race to become New York City’s next mayor, and the primary will be held on June 22. Here’s a rundown of the candidates.
    • Get to Know the Candidates: We asked leading candidates for mayor questions about everything from police reform and climate change to their favorite bagel order and workout routine.
    • What is Ranked-Choice Voting? New York City began using ranked-choice voting for primary elections this year, and voters will be able to list up to five candidates in order of preference. Confused? We can help.

    Maya Wiley, a former counsel to Mayor Bill de Blasio, finished third, picking up support from voters who liked Kathryn Garcia, the city’s former sanitation commissioner, and Dianne Morales, a former nonprofit executive.

    Once Ms. Wiley was cut in the 10th round, more of her supporters listed Mr. Adams higher on their ballot than Mr. Yang, helping Mr. Adams come out on top.

    The poll found other interesting trends. Mr. Yang polls best among men, moderate and younger Democrats and Asian voters. Voters with more education tended to support Ms. Garcia, and more liberal voters tended to back Ms. Wiley. Black, conservative and Brooklyn voters liked Mr. Adams. And Mr. Stringer attracted support from older women.

    Donovan PAC leads in ad spending. But to what end?

    For $5.5 million, one could buy a townhouse in Greenwich Village, a five-bedroom mansion in Sag Harbor or a swath of TV advertising for a mayoral candidate now polling in the single digits.

    New Start N.Y.C., a super PAC supporting Shaun Donovan’s campaign, has spent more on T.V., radio and online advertising than any other entity in the mayor’s race, according to Ad Impact, an advertising analytics firm. That is twice as much as the next-highest spender, Mr. Stringer’s campaign.

    Michael Donovan, the candidate’s father and the primary funder of the super PAC, didn’t respond to requests for comment. Nor did Brittany Wise, the super PAC’s treasurer. Since February, Michael Donovan has pumped $6.8 million into the super PAC supporting his son. All other contributors to the PAC combined have put in about $100,000.

    The money has gone toward ads like “Fix the Mess,” which, like Mr. Donovan’s campaign, touts the former federal housing secretary and budget director’s work in the Obama administration.

    Mr. Donovan has an impressive governmental résumé and working relationships with the most powerful elected officials in the country, according to Kenneth Sherrill, a professor of political science at Hunter College. But, Mr. Sherrill said, candidates with the best résumés are often not the best campaigners — and all the money in the world can’t necessarily change that.

    “You can rattle off all kinds of qualifications, but we don’t choose mayor by competitive examination,” Mr. Sherrill said, adding, “High-spending candidates rarely win.”

    McGuire puts $1 million into campaign as poll numbers lag

    Mr. Donovan is not the only candidate with ample resources to spend but arguably little of substance to show for it, according to the latest fund-raising numbers released by the city’s campaign finance board last week.

    No one raised more money in the last two months than Raymond J. McGuire, a former Citigroup executive, who brought in $2.4 million from the likes of the hedge fund managers Paul Tudor Jones and Daniel Loeb. Mr. McGuire put his own money where his mouth is, too, pumping $1 million into his campaign on May 6. Mr. McGuire also lent his campaign $2 million this month.

    Even without that personal donation, he would have raised about as much as the $1.37 million garnered by Mr. Yang, and more than the $878,000 raised by Mr. Adams or the $661,000 that Ms. Garcia raised.

    The latter three contenders are participating in the city’s matching funds program, which rewards campaigns that raise small donations from New York City residents. It is not yet clear how much in matching funds they will receive this round. Mr. McGuire is not participating in the program and is not subject to its stricter fund-raising limits. His campaign has also spent more than those of his competitors.

    But he remains toward the back of the pack.

    In the recent public poll by Public Opinion Strategies, he was the first choice of only 6 percent of potential Democratic primary voters.

    His spokeswoman, Lupe Todd-Medina, argued that Mr. McGuire does in fact have much to show from that spending: Polls are often inaccurate, she said particularly when polling communities of color. And she noted that Mr. McGuire had no political experience before jumping into the mayor’s race.

    “In this short period of time, without selling gimmicky tricks to New Yorkers, Ray has created widespread support for his comprehensive plan for the greatest, most inclusive economic comeback this city has ever seen,” Ms. Todd-Medina said.

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