The case for and against Eric Adams
Interesting and timely piece -- thanks, Professor Schleicher (and welcome).
I'm a non-New Yorker, and I tend to follow NYC politics casually like a lot of Americans because it's the country's biggest city and because I'm interested in politics. This year's race seems to be getting more coverage than any previous one I can remember (not sure why; the newfangled voting system, perhaps?).
Anyway, the candidate I've been favoring up to now has been Kathryn Garcia, partly because of Matt Yglesias's endorsement, and partly because she seems to exude no-nonsense, nuts and bolts competence. But I've definitely warmed up to Eric Adams's candidacy, too. No, the outcome doesn't and won't affect me very directly. But as someone who very much wants Democrats to do well in next year's midterms, the crime issue scares the crap out of me, and I think a Democrat who happens to be A) non-woke, B) a former cop, C) Black, D) tough on crime, might be a positive for Democratic optics and messaging. Also, I'm vaguely aware of criticisms leveled against Adams that's "he's too close to developers," and to my ears that's a proxy for "Realizes building as much as possible is good, not bad, for NYC." And so for me that registers as praise, not criticism. (For the exact opposite reasons Maya Wiley's candidacy leaves me cold: soft on crime, hard on building stuff).
For the record I don't expect New York voters to share my concerns (why would they?) and I readily concede I haven't followed the campaign in minute detail (so I could have some of the positioning stuff wrong). But these, in any event, are my outsider's impressions.
The NYC mayoral election has been a stark reminder of how heavily the city is overly represented in our talking heads class. I don't live in New York nor have any ties or interests in New York, but I've seen 20x more tweets about this election in my timeline than I have ever seen about our local elections here in DC.
Anyhow, it's interesting to watch as someone with little vested interest in it other than hoping the most pro-development candidate wins. Seeing national progressives line up behind Maya Wiley, whose campaign seems to have little substance beyond the progressive aesthetics, is disheartening. Like DeBlasio, and I guess Bloomberg before him, it seems like Adams will win despite everyone with even a tiny platform seemingly hating him. I'm genuinely interested to read more about the "silent majority" in New York who keeps electing these much loathed mayors.
Wondering if anyone can translate this bit of news I caught last night that soured my impression of Adams.
Garcia and Yang formed an alliance to encourage their supporters to rank the other. Adams says this alliance is designed to keep him from winning (makes sense, he's the front runner), keep a person of color from winning (starting to get weird), is a backroom deal (seems to be out in the open?) and amounts to voter suppression (huh???).
It's this last bit I really don't get. If I understand the explanation from the Adams' campaign correctly it's close to the most racist things I've heard a politician say in my lifetime, amounting to "my black and brown supporters still don't understand ranked choice, so alliances confuse them and therefore suppress the black vote". Can't guess if he really believes that or just hates RCV, but that seems like a shockingly awful thing to say or perception to harbor about your own voters. But maybe I'm completely misunderstanding the way in which he referred to voter suppression. Or maybe I'm just taking campaign mudslinging BS much too seriously
I would love to hear more about why exactly a Tammany machine style, coalition based government was more effective at saying no to constituencies, because that’s not immediately clear why that was (if it was). And I don’t really see an obvious intuitive reason that this Adams coalition would be more courageous on land use - is any member of the coalition pushing for that? Maybe construction unions want it, but there’s stuff to construct without upsetting NIMBYs.
I think if a coalitional candidate is elected they hire top people who represent those constituencies and have chiefs of staff types who see their job as minimizing people being actions that upset constituencies and instead favor incrementalism.
Sadly, I think the bigger reason NYC is likely to get incrementalism is that nothing is really bad (which is good), unlike say SF or a city with declining population or such, and so the cost of big ideas outweighs the voter desire for them.
An interesting post, but I would like to make a meta-point about this, and all other articles on the New York mayoral primary (i.e., not even the general!):
I posit, pending empirical verification, that this New York mayoral race has received more media attention than the election campaigns of all other American cities combined. Over the past decade. If not more.
I mean I like New York. New York is important. It's not *that* important.
I really don't get the appeal of someone who is going to be powerful when you don't know what their policies will be. Why would I want someone to have the ability to do unspecified things very effectively?
Maybe Adams will do the same thing that Yang suggested he would as mayor—ask Kathryn Garcia to join his administration to fix things.
Given his personal commitment to petty corruption, shouldn't the default assumption be that his mayoralty will be deeply corrupt? It is certainly possible someone who has flouted ethics rules his entire career would suddenly grow a conscience after being elected mayor, but that would be pretty surprising.
Why not go for Garcia who has proven competence as opposed to the risk that Adams has been bought and paid for and debts will be due.
I am so happy I live in a suburb and no one writes stories about who my mayor is lol. I have read more about the ins and outs of the NYC mayor race than I have ever read about my town.
So... another case of focusing on NIMBYism. As if those struggling to find housing in NYC want to live in tiny apartments in massive apartment buildings, fulfilling the vision that technocratic elites have for them. They want better wages, they want to be NIMBYers themselves. Are the Slow Boring-style advocates of new massive housing developments (you know... everyone's favorite part of European cities, they stop in the Paris suburbs to revel in their glory and never make it to the city proper) the technocrat version of the "woke" meritocracy? Proposing things that make them feel better, i.e. that make them feel like they're not part of the elite that does not fight for a progressive income tax and stronger unions? Your case for Adams is that somehow he'll build more cheap housing that you would never live in yourself? The enemy are Greenwich Village preservationists? Sure, because everyone goes to Greenwich Village and says it's too bad they saved so many buildings. What a joke.
I just hope the city council works with him productively.
"These groups are part of the warp and woof of the city and its politics, providing campaign workers in off-off-cycle city council races..." This should say "warp and weft" in place of warp and woof. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warp_and_weft
"Councilmanic privilege" is a funny phrase somehow.
Why is it -manic? We don't use "manic" to mean relating to men.
Maybe it should be "councilmale privilege" ...
A major change that has significantly reduced decision making to benefit the city as a whole was the elimination of the old Board of Estimate. The BOE had the trick of the three citywide officials able to override the borough presidents. And the City Council was much weaker.