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Not My Party: NYC Mayoral Race Mayhem

The New York City mayoral race isn't looking good fo defund-the-police progressives.
June 17, 2021
Tim Miller's Not My Party: NYC Mayoral Race Mayhem

This is a video transcript. Watch Not My Party every Thursday on Snapchat.

New York City—supposedly the country’s progressive Mecca filled with Brooklyn hipster socialists. So why does it seem like the city might elect a moderate mayor?

For all my fellow political junkies out there looking for a fix, the New York City mayoral primary is this Tuesday. According to a recent poll of New York voters, their top issue is combatting crime, which has sharply increased over the past year, shooting up 166 percent. This has brought the progressive “defund the police” push to center stage, which will have huge implications in New York City that also reverberate across the country. After all, if defund the police can’t make it here, can it make it anywhere? (You get it?)

Here’s the lay of the land: On the GOP side, drunk Rudy endorsed this guy, Curtis Sliwa. Cool beret, but no chance he wins.

“I’ll make good use of Gracie Mansion, I have 15 rescue cats. It’s a lot of heavy lifting and litter.” [Sliwa]

So all the real action’s with the Dems. One early contender who hit the skids was Diane Morales, a vocal supporter of defund the police and the great hope of the Bernie wing of the party.

“As a mayoral candidate, I’ve committed to defunding the police by $3 billion in my first year.” [Morales]

Her campaign imploded when she blocked her own staff’s attempt to unionize. And you wonder why the Chapo socialists never actually win anything.

But this is still anybody’s game. There are four candidates who have a legit chance of becoming the next mayor. Of the four, Maya Wiley has been the most sympathetic to the defund movement. Wiley’s a progressive lawyer, professor, and activist. Last weekend, the Strokes held a concert for her, and her biggest endorser, AOC, showed up to the party. But she’s also had some missteps, receiving major blow back recently when she implied she might disarm New York City cops.

The other three disagree with the defund movement and have definitely had hiccups of their own. During his 2020 presidential run, Andrew Yang built a loyal online following, the Yang Gang, with his plans for universal basic income and creative capitalist reforms to government. He’s led the polls for most of the mayor’s race, running as a savvy entrepreneur and operator. But he fumbled the top spot when he aggressively supported Israel via tweet, then chose to backpedal, leaving all sides a little miffed.

Yang’s no-politics-as-usual brand also took a hit when he said he listened to a lot of Jay-Z, but then couldn’t name a single song when asked.

Katherine Garcia runs the sanitation department in a city not exactly known for its cleanliness. She hasn’t built a passionate base of online stans, but she has been running as a competent, experienced, middle-of-the-road alternative to a wacky field. That strategy sound familiar?

Which brings us to the front runner. Eric Adams is the Brooklyn borough president, a vegan, a law-and-order moderate, and a former cop. Last week, he had the hiccup of all hiccups when Politico revealed he lives in New Jersey, not Brooklyn. Rather than admit it, he brought the press to his son’s Bed-Stuy basement apartment, pretending it was his. But look at this: There’s a sneaker collection, and a barren bachelor’s fridge with gross ranch dressing, and other non-vegan items. Dude, what are you thinking? But despite fridgegate, Adams still leads in recent polling.

So if one of the three relative moderates win in New York, that will be a massive defeat for the defund-the-police wing of the Democratic party. And if it’s Adams, a former cop, that will be a body blow. And it’s Wiley who remains as the last best hope for progressives.

If you want to see which candidate is closest to your politics, check out this great quiz at I got Yang. Unfortunately, New York’s election system is so screwed up, we’re not going to know the result for weeks.

Maybe that’s something the next mayor can fix.


Tim Miller

Tim Miller is The Bulwark’s writer-at-large and the author of the best-selling book Why We Did It: A Travelogue from the Republican Road to Hell. He was previously political director for Republican Voters Against Trump and communications director for Jeb Bush 2016.