How Much of a Democrat Is Eric Adams?

Good morning. It’s Tuesday. Mayor Eric Adams says he identifies as progressive. We’ll look at why some left-leaning Democrats disagree.

Mayor Eric Adams is a Democrat, but on issues like public safety, religion and budget cuts, he stands to the right of many Democrats in New York. Adams acknowledges that some of his views are considered conservative but says that others are “extremely liberal.” Still, some left-leaning Democrats wonder about Adams’s approach, which sometimes brings to mind City Hall predecessors like Michael Bloomberg or even Rudolph Giuliani, a Republican. I asked Emma G. Fitzsimmons, our City Hall bureau chief, to explain how Adams is perceived — and how he sees himself.

The Jordan Neely case again put him at odds with progressives like Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, with whom he seemed to have reached a détente. How did his statements on the Neely case play with progressives?

Some progressive Democrats criticized the mayor for not moving quickly to denounce Neely’s death, to express sympathy for him and to discourage New Yorkers from taking matters into their own hands when someone is disruptive on a train.

Nine days after Neely was killed, the mayor gave a speech saying for the first time that Neely “did not deserve to die.” Still, unlike some Democrats, the mayor did not call for charges against Daniel Penny, the man who put Neely in a chokehold.

Two days after that, when Penny was ultimately charged with second-degree manslaughter, Adams said: “Now justice can move forward against Daniel Penny.”

You write that Adams has been pushing moderate, sometimes even conservative, views. Sometimes he seems to look at this like the police officer he once was. Has that hurt him with the left?

The mayor has never really gotten along with the left. He did not win over progressive voters in the 2021 mayoral primary; many of them voted for Maya Wiley, a civil rights advocate.

But left-leaning Democrats have increasingly raised the alarm about the mayor’s decisions — his comments casting doubt on the separation of church and state, his response to the migrant crisis and homelessness and his support for rent increases and charter schools.

Adams has called for budget cuts that threaten to reduce city services like libraries as he tries to cover the cost of sheltering migrants, which is expected to come to more than $1 billion. You wrote that this is not an expense that Adams’s predecessors had to worry about. Is that his only concern on the financial front?

The mayor has said that New York City is facing several budget challenges: the response to the migrant crisis, the cost of new labor contracts with city workers, including police officers, and economic concerns over slowing tax revenues and empty office buildings. Leaders of the City Council say that his budget projections are too pessimistic and that the city needs to invest in key priorities like housing and free preschool to help New Yorkers during an affordability crisis.

How different is Adams now from when he was a candidate? Has being in City Hall changed him?

The mayor ran on a public safety message at a time when New Yorkers were feeling anxious about crime, and he’d be the first to tell you that he’s the same guy as he was on the campaign trail. During the 2021 mayoral race, the city was still in the depths of the pandemic. Other issues like housing, schools and homelessness received less attention, and progressive Democrats were to some extent playing defense after a backlash to the “defund the police” movement.

Some of the mayor’s decisions have been surprising, like his cuts to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s popular preschool program for 3- and 4-year-olds and his cuts to schools and libraries. Those weren’t issues he talked about on the campaign trail.

Adams says pragmatism is what the city needs. He also says it’s what his core constituency, working-class New Yorkers from places like Brooklyn and Queens, wants. How’s he doing with them, and with other voters?

Adams became mayor with the support of Black and Latino voters outside Manhattan, and he is often governing with them in mind. His poll numbers have dropped, but his support among Black voters has been stronger.

When we asked voters about how he’s doing, many older voters still like him. Younger voters and left-leaning voters felt strongly that he was taking the city in the wrong direction, and CUNY law school graduates turned their back on him at a graduation ceremony.

People often forget that the mayor only won the primary by 7,197 votes. He could face a challenge from the left when he runs for re-election in 2025.

Adams needs help from the Biden administration on migrants. Is his relationship with the White House fraying because of his rhetoric lately? How much of what he says is off the cuff?

Adams has called himself the “Biden of Brooklyn,” and he has argued that he and the president are aligned and have a similar brand of moderate politics.

But the mayor is genuinely frustrated with President Biden over the migrant crisis. He made a calculated decision to attack the president directly to get his attention. Adams believes that the Biden administration has failed to help New York City as city officials try to provide housing and services for the more than 61,000 migrants who have arrived over the last year. The mayor wants billions of dollars in federal funding to help the city pay for those services.

The mayor was announced as a key Biden surrogate for the president’s re-election campaign in March, but he was quietly removed from the list last week.


Expect increasing clouds and temperatures reaching the low 80s. At night, prepare for mostly cloudy skies with temps dropping to the high 50s.


In effect until Thursday (Solemnity of the Ascension).

The latest New York news

Garage collapse: Four weeks after a parking garage collapsed in Lower Manhattan, a New York Times examination of the city’s garages has found that serious structural problems are widespread — and in many cases have gone uncorrected for years.

Support and donations for Daniel Penny: The 24-year-old man charged with fatally choking Jordan Neely on a subway has been called a “hero” and a good Samaritan by right-wing political figures.

Fined for violations: Mayor Eric Adams’s mayoral transition committee was fined $19,600 on Monday for violating New York City’s campaign finance rules.


Last call at the Friars Club? The landmark sanctum of comedians in Midtown Manhattan is facing the threat of foreclosure after missing payments on a $13 million mortgage. The club’s leaders are looking for an 11th-hour savior.

Frieze pop-up: The 11th edition of the fair Frieze New York will pop up at the Shed in Hudson Yards this week, from Thursday to Sunday, and will feature 68 galleries.

Matthew Barney’s “Secondary”: In Matthew Barney’s new video installation, the artist known for maximalist works like “The Cremaster Cycle” returns to the football fields of his childhood.

Death of a virtuoso: Thomas Stacy, who helped make the English horn better known in his decades with the New York Philharmonic, died at 84.


Dear Diary:

It was a late evening in May 1983, and it happened to be the 100th anniversary of the Brooklyn Bridge. I was a trading assistant at Lehman Brothers living in the decidedly unglamorous neighborhood of Park Slope, Brooklyn.

The trains were less reliable then than they are now, and I always had a plan B to get home if there was a problem taking the 2 or 3 at Wall Street.

It was one of those days. Feeling miserable after a long day as a kid on the trading floor, I waited on the platform to get home. The train I was planning to take had just been pulled out of service.

I left the Wall Street station and walked to the Broad Street station to take a different train. One finally came and I was on my way home.

The train trundled up to the Manhattan Bridge, got halfway across and suddenly stopped. We sat there for a few minutes wondering what was going on.

Then the lights went out and we all sighed, thinking the worst. Just then the conductor’s voice came over the.

“It’s showtime, folks!” he said.

We sat on the train, in the dark, in the middle of the bridge and the East River, watching the fireworks celebrating the Brooklyn Bridge for over five minutes from the best seats in the house.

— Peter J. Goldman

Illustrated by Agnes Lee. Send submissions here and read more Metropolitan Diary here.

Glad we could get together here. See you tomorrow. — J.B.

P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword and Spelling Bee. You can find all our puzzles here.

Melissa Guerrero, Jeffrey Furticella, Rick Martinez and Olivia Parker contributed to New York Today. You can reach the team at [email protected].

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