On Last Day of Primary Race for N.Y.C. Mayor, Candidates Look to Lock In Votes

The Democratic primary race is still believed to be tight enough that at least four candidates have a decent chance of winning.
Credit…Andrew Seng for The New York Times

The most crowded field of Democratic candidates for New York City mayor in recent memory makes a collective sprint to the finish line today, crisscrossing the city in dozens of appearances on the last day before Tuesday’s primary. Beware as you leave the house or turn on the TV or radio: You are liable to encounter someone asking for your vote.

After a closing weekend filled with drama, including a new alliance between two candidates, Andrew Yang and Kathryn Garcia, that was roundly criticized by a third — Eric Adams — the race, which has featured little high-quality polling, is still believed to be tight enough that at least four candidates have a decent chance of winning.

Here are some highlights from the top candidates’ schedules:

  • Mr. Adams will take part in a rally against gun violence in Jamaica, Queens, this morning, continuing to hammer away at the crime-fighting theme that has come to define his candidacy. Mr. Adams, the Brooklyn borough president and a retired police captain, will hold a rally with first responders in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, Brooklyn, in the afternoon and appear live on Time TV in the evening.

  • Ms. Garcia, a former sanitation commissioner, will greet voters at the Union Square Greenmarket this morning, appear live on MSNBC at noon and tour small businesses in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, in the afternoon. She will greet Staten Island Ferry passengers in Manhattan in the evening, appear with Mr. Yang in Flushing and Corona, Queens, and then be interviewed on CNN.

  • Maya Wiley, a former counsel to the outgoing mayor, Bill de Blasio, will greet voters at Jamaica Center in Queens before speaking live on the Brian Lehrer show on WNYC radio. She will visit a Fairway supermarket on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, then talk to voters in Washington Heights in Manhattan; East Flatbush, Brooklyn; and Starrett City, Brooklyn. She will hold a rally in the evening with three members of Congress and the New York Public Advocate at the Brooklyn Museum.

  • Mr. Yang, the former presidential candidate, has morning appearances in Brooklyn and Manhattan, followed by interviews on 1010 WINS radio and on MSNBC. In the afternoon, he will greet voters in Manhattan and the Bronx and stop outside the Mets game at Citi Field. In the evening, he will travel to several neighborhoods in Queens and will be interviewed live on CNN and on Talk Radio 77 WABC.

Andrew Yang, an early front-runner in the mayor’s race, is seeking to give his campaign a final jolt in the final day before the primary.
Credit…Andrew Seng for The New York Times

As he hit the campaign trail early on Monday morning, Andrew Yang had a message for the supporters and campaign volunteers helping him greet commuters at the Staten Island ferry terminal.

“We’re going to win New York by hustling,” he said, to claps and laughter.

The hustle was on display on the last full day of campaigning before Election Day. Mr. Yang hopped on the Staten Island Ferry at 7:30 a.m., kicking off a tour he’s making of all five boroughs in the final day of the campaign.

With a few campaign staffers in tow, Mr. Yang — whose energy often seems boundless, even on a barge crossing New York Harbor on a dreary day — handed out leaflets and greeted bleary-eyed voters as they rode the ferry from Manhattan to Staten Island.

As has been his custom, Mr. Yang posed for selfies with those who asked. At the ferry terminal, he jogged alongside commuters rushing to catch the boat to Manhattan.

He also spoke to undecided voters to try and sway them to rank him on their ballots on Tuesday.

Joshua Bryson, 55, said that he had not yet decided who to vote for but that he was considering Mr. Yang.

“I wish I could marry four candidates together and make one super candidate,” Mr. Bryson, of the Upper East Side, said after speaking with Mr. Yang on the ferry. His top choices at the moment were Mr. Yang and Maya D. Wiley.

Mr. Bryson, a lifelong New Yorker, said that he had initially been dissuaded by Mr. Yang’s background. “One thing I worry about with Andrew Yang is that his qualification seems to be, you know, that he’s a rich guy.”

He had also written Mr. Yang off because he thought he had leaned into fear-mongering about crime.

But Mr. Bryson, who said one of his main concerns was limiting the power of real estate developers, said he was still considering a vote for Mr. Yang after speaking with him.

“I’m going to do a little more research, to be fair,” he said.

At least 14 individuals identified as billionaires by Forbes magazine have donated to mayoral-related super PACs. Their money has largely gone to three candidates, including Eric Adams, above.
Credit…James Estrin/The New York Times

One T.V. spot hails Eric Adams’s experience as a police officer. Another touts Andrew Yang’s cash relief plans.

With New York City Democrats poised to pick a mayoral candidate on Tuesday who is all but certain to win the general election in November, New Yorkers have been inundated with mailers, and ads on T.V., radio and the internet.

As usual, many of those ads come from the mayoral campaigns themselves. But, in a first for New York City, a substantial amount of that advertising comes from super PACs backing individual candidates.

In 2013, the last time there was an open election for mayor, New York City saw no candidate-specific super PACs. This year, seven of the top eight Democrats running for mayor have them. And much of the funding for those super PACs comes from billionaires.

These barely regulated expenditures threaten to undermine New York City’s campaign finance system, which is designed to fight the power of big money in politics by using city funds to match small donations.

At least 14 individuals identified as billionaires by Forbes magazine have donated to mayoral-related super PACs. Their money has generally gone to the three moderate candidates who talk the most about tamping down on crime and disorder: Mr. Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, Mr. Yang, a former presidential candidate, and Raymond J. McGuire, a former Citigroup executive who trails in the polls.

Together, billionaires have spent more than $16 million this year on super PACs involved in the mayoral race, with half of that benefiting those three candidates.

Overall super PAC spending in the mayor’s race exceeds $24 million, according to the New York City Campaign Finance Board. And three of the top six spenders on television, digital and radio advertising in the mayor’s race are super PACs.

“Now in 2021, New York City has a term-limited Democratic incumbent with no heir apparent, which has led to a wide open mayoral race run with campaigns run by consultants with deep experience using candidate super PACs in federal campaigns,” said John Kaehny, the executive director of Reinvent Albany.

Mayoral candidates Andrew Yang and Kathryn Garcia walking together on Sunday to the “Voting is Justice” rally against AAPI hate in Chinatown, New York.
Credit…Andrew Seng for The New York Times

Black leaders continued to raise concerns on Sunday about a new alliance in the New York City mayor’s race between Kathryn Garcia and Andrew Yang after the front-runner, Eric Adams, argued that the strategy was intended to dilute the voice of Black voters.

H. Carl McCall, the former state comptroller, called their alliance “an attempt to bring the disgraceful national campaign of voter suppression to New York.” Representative Gregory W. Meeks, chairman of the Queens Democratic Party, said the “stunt reeks of desperation and our community is too engaged to fall for this.”

Mr. McCall has endorsed Mr. Adams while Mr. Meeks has said that Mr. Adams will be the second choice on his ranked-choice ballot, after Ray McGuire.

Mr. Adams is arguing that Mr. Yang and Ms. Garcia are working together to prevent “a person of color” — specifically a Black or Latino person — from becoming mayor. His supporters have asserted that the alliance could disenfranchise Black voters. (Mr. Yang has responded by saying, “I would tell Eric Adams that I’ve been Asian my entire life.”)

In a news conference in Chinatown, Mr. Yang said Mr. Adams was being divisive when he criticized his alliance with Ms. Garcia.

“New Yorkers know that we need to come together, that if the next mayor comes into office and we’re still divided, we’re still sniping at each other, we’re never going to overcome the challenges that are getting more serious around us all the time,” he said.

Mr. Yang said that he and Ms. Garcia began campaigning together on Saturday in part because he wanted to ensure the city’s next mayor would “stand up for people and families and not be beholden to special interests” or “enter under a cloud of investigation and suspicion.” He declined to say whether he was talking about Mr. Adams.

In Chinatown, Mr. Yang sought to give voice to the concerns of Asian-Americans about rising anti-Asian violence, saying “we are vulnerable.” A vote for him, he suggested, would help rebuff the idea that Asian Americans in the city did not belong.

“One way to send that message would be to have the first Asian American mayor of the City of New York,” Mr. Yang said.

Mr. Yang appeared in Chinatown with Ms. Garcia at a rally against anti-Asian violence. Another candidate, Maya Wiley, also appeared at the event, but separately.

Ms. Wiley, who is a Black woman, said she did not agree with Mr. Adams’s assertion that the Yang-Garcia alliance was an attempt to dilute the Black vote. She said that candidates are going to make different decisions about strategy under ranked-choice voting.

“I will never play the race card lightly unless I see racism, and I’m not calling this racism,” Ms. Wiley said. Ms. Wiley also defended the ranked-choice system, asserting that Mr. Adams is complaining about it because he is concerned about her momentum.

“I believe that ranked-choice voting is better for democracy period — whoever people vote for,” Ms. Wiley said.

Maya Wiley speaks at a rally against anti-Asian violence on Sunday in Chinatown.
Credit…Hilary Swift for The New York Times

Sunday was the last day of early voting before Tuesday’s primary, and the leading Democratic candidates braved the heat to shake hands, dance and even hula hoop with supporters. Here are highlights from the final weekend.

Kathryn Garcia and Andrew Yang campaigned together in Chinatown for the second time in the closing days of the race, earning the ire of a third candidate, Eric Adams.

Mr. Yang has encouraged his supporters to mark Ms. Garcia as their second choice on the ranked-choice ballots. Ms. Garcia isn’t returning the favor, though she has praised Mr. Yang.

The show of unity from two of the strongest candidates underscored how ranked-choice voting has complicated the race and how rival candidates can band together in a ranked-choice election to stem the momentum of a front-runner.

Prominent Black leaders, including Representative Gregory W. Meeks of Queens, echoed comments by Mr. Adams that the alliance was an attempt to weaken the voice of Black voters.

Mr. Adams called the show of unity an attempt to prevent “a person of color” — specifically someone Black or Latino — from becoming mayor. The former state comptroller H. Carl McCall likened the move to voter suppression.

Mr. Yang dismissed the accusation that his alliance with Ms. Garcia was divisive. Maya Wiley, who like Mr. Adams is Black, disagreed with Mr. Adams that the partnership was intended to weaken the Black vote.

“I will never play the race card lightly unless I see racism, and I’m not calling this racism,” she said.

Mr. Adams has never been a fan of ranked-choice voting, which lets voters select their top five candidates. Now, he is raising questions about how the Board of Elections plans to release results.

Mr. Adams, who has declined to say who he would list as No. 2 choice, has said the board should not release any results before the final tally. The city plans to start releasing partial and unofficial vote totals Tuesday night after polls close.

If no candidate get more than 50 percent of first-place votes, the ranked-choice voting tabulation process will begin.

Ms. Adams said he disagreed with the process but that he would not fight it. “We have to play by the rules,” he said.

New Yorkers didn’t rush to polling sites on Sunday, the last day of early voting, choosing instead to jam parks, beaches, restaurants and bars on a brilliant, hot day where the temperature neared 90.

That was a reversal from last November’s presidential election, when more than a million people waited in lines that stretched for blocks. This time, even the most crowded polling sites had lines of only about 20 minutes.

Neither the heat nor Father’s Day could keep candidates off the campaign trail, though, with some turning their final pitches to voters into a family affair.

Scott M. Stringer brought his wife and two sons to canvass on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Both sons handed out pamphlets and wore Team Stringer T-shirts.

“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Mr. Stringer said of his Father’s Day.