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NYC Mayoral Rivals Team Up, Aiming to Weaken Race’s Front-Runner

Jun 19, 2021

Jun 19 2021, 8:05 PM June 19 2021, 7:02 PM June 19 2021, 8:05 PM (Bloomberg) -- In a move to shake up the race to become New York City’s next mayor, former Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia and celebrity entrepreneur Andrew Yang agreed to campaign together Saturday in each other’s political strongholds. (Bloomberg) -- In a move to shake up the race to become New York City’s next mayor, former Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia and celebrity entrepreneur Andrew Yang agreed to campaign together Saturday in each other’s political strongholds. The team-up aims to take advantage of the dynamics of the city’s new election system -- which allows voters to rank their choices -- at the expense of the frontrunner, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. The two will gather first for a get-out-the-vote rally on the busy commercial streets of Flushing, Queens, home to the city’s greatest concentration of Chinese immigrants. Yang, the upstate New York-born son of Taiwanese immigrants, is popular there. Later, Garcia and Yang will hold a news conference in Manhattan’s Stuyvesant Town, a middle-class enclave of rent-stabilized housing, where polls show Garcia running strongly. The arrangement creates a novel partnership and strategic test of the first New York City mayoral election to feature ranked-choice voting. The new system, which has confused many voters, permits people to select as many as five candidates in order of preference rather than just one. Saturday’s meet-up, days before the June 22 Democratic primary, holds the promise of bolstering Garcia or Yang, or both, over Adams, a former New York City police captain. It could also weaken MSNBC television commentator Maya Wiley, who has gained momentum with endorsements from nationally known progressives including U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. “It’s a natural alliance in the face of a potential defeat for both candidates to the current front-runner, who is Adams,” said political consultant George Fontas, who’s commissioned a series of polls during the race while not backing any candidate. In one of those surveys, in May, Fontas found that Adams had built such a broad multi-ethnic coalition that Garcia would need to expand her base beyond White residents of Manhattan to have a realistic chance to win. Yang’s loyal following among Asian voters represents that opportunity, Fontas said in an interview. The deal may benefit Garcia more than Yang, Fontas said, because polls show her leading Yang. Under ranked-choice voting, if Yang trails Garcia, and his voters have chosen her second, that support would go to her as if they had been first place votes. Campaigning with Yang may motivate the 2020 Democratic presidential contender’s most fervent voters to include Garcia on their ballots, too, instead of just voting only for him. Yang has been supportive of Garcia, who served as Mayor Bill de Blasio’s crisis manager, running the city’s massive public housing authority and managing a pandemic food relief program, all the while running the city’s massive Sanitation Department. Yang often described Garcia as his second choice, to which Garcia responded with a now-famous retort: “I’m not running for number two.” At the same time, Yang has shown animosity toward Adams, who’s ascended in the polls while Yang’s early lead has evaporated. Adams has ridiculed Yang’s Universal Basic Income, or UBI, plan, calling it “U-B-Lie,” and belittled Yang’s knowledge of the city. The two have competed for support in Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish communities, which usually vote as blocs. During last week’s candidate’s debate, Yang taunted Adams for failing to win the endorsement of the Captains Endowment Association. The union representing past and current NYPD commanders backed Yang over one of its own. When Adams said he didn’t seek or want any police union support, Yang said Adams wasn’t being truthful. “Yang and Adams have been in pitched warfare for weeks,” said Fontas, who’s not working for or backing any candidate. “Garcia is seizing the animus between her two rivals to pick up more number two votes and potentially defeat Adams with Yang’s imprimatur.” ©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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