Political Rivals Circling Wounded New York Mayor, Ready to Spring

December 10, 2023

NEW YORK – Embattled New York City Mayor Eric Adams – a former police officer in his first term – has found himself between a rock and Turkish Taffy with an investigation into his campaign fundraising and ties to Turkish influences.

And in the cutthroat world of New York politics, his rivals and critics are smelling police and getting into position to be in position if his troubles become insurmountable and he finds himself on the outs, even as he defends his record.’

In a review, The New York Times said there’s now near open mocking of his woes after City Comptroller Brad Lander restricted Adams’ spending powers to deal with mounting numbers of migrants and noted the FBI looking into how Adams raised money as Lander made a pitch to his prospective donors.


Adams also has to take on the City Council over his proposed cut-to-the-bone budget cuts that are unpopular with the big voting block of city workers, unions and public safety agencies – like the police – alienating former colleagues.

It’s gotten so bad for Adams that one of the names mentioned as wanting his job is former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who resigned in 2021 while dealing with a sexual assault scandal that tarnished his reputation.

The Greek-American community is unhappy with Adams too after it was revealed he had gone to Turkey at least half a dozen times and an investigation is looking into whether he was under Turkish influence.

He faces a federal investigation into his campaign fund-raising, and widespread criticism over his handling of the migrant crisis and was named in a legal claim accusing him of sexual assault in 1993, the worries piling up.

A Quinnipiac University poll put Adams’ popularity at only 28 percent, the lowest for any New York City Mayor since the school began doing surveys in, showing how far he has fallen since taking office on Jan. 1, 2022.

And he hasn’t been accused of any wrongdoing yet, only the sense that something is afoot over an FBI investigation that included a raid on the house of his chief fundraiser, the seizure of his cellphones and those shady Turkish ties.

“We’re in a period of enormous political uncertainty,” said Evan Roth Smith, a founding partner at Slingshot Strategies. He told the paper: “A special election is far from a certainty, but it’s clearly a possibility.”

The poll found that Mr. Cuomo would be the most popular candidate at 22 percent, followed by the city’s public advocate, Jumaane Williams, at 15 percent. Kathryn Garcia, a former sanitation commissioner who finished second in the 2021 Democratic mayoral primary, came in third at 12 percent.

That there’s even talk of replacing a mayor half way through his term has only added to the political intrigue but Adams isn’t sitting still nor being a sitting duck for his critics, fighting back instead.

Fabien Levy, a spokesman for the mayor, criticized the new poll that gave Adams such a dismal showing in the face of multiple crises. “Mayor Adams was voted into office to fight for working New Yorkers,” Levy said, “and he will keep fighting for them as Mayor no matter what any wildly skewed polls or his political opponents say, and no matter what other arrow of injustice is aimed his way. Attempting to tear down the city’s second Black mayor for blatant political purposes is shameful,” he said, noting the Mayor’s ethnicity.


Adams has never been a shrinking violet and indeed known for his confident strut but that fast pace seems to have slowed with all the weight on his shoulders weighing him down and taking attention away from his policies.

His backers and aides sent out nearly verbatim defenses after the poll to try to shore him up, one praising his “hustle and success” and Steven Rubenstein, Chairman of the Association for a Better New York, called the mayor a “champion for all New Yorkers.”

Adams still has broad support from some business and union leaders, a signal to potential challengers not to get too confident and he enjoys backing from a wide array of constituencies even in the face of his political perils.

At a recent town hall meeting in East Harlem, Adams talked openly about “two tough issues that you have been reading about,” and told the crowd he didn’t break any laws helping the Turkish Consulate and that he did not sexually assault a woman who filed a legal claim against him for an incident she said happened in 1993. “You know my character,” he said. “You know what I stand for.”

In most mayoral election cycles in New York, Democratic incumbents are virtually untouchable but other Democrats are encroaching to take him on in the 2025 election or in case of a special election if he were to resign or forced out.

Cuomo has spoken to people about potentially running for mayor under the right circumstances, according to three people who have spoken to him and who were granted anonymity, the paper said.

Cuomo’s allies have insisted that the former governor would consider running for mayor only if Adams was no longer in the race. “He is not going to run against the mayor,” Charlie King, a Democratic strategist close to Cuomo, said.

Matt Wing, a former adviser to  Garcia, signaled that she might be open to running, saying in a statement: “In the chaos of a special election, New York City will need stability over political spectacle. And there’s only one leader in the potential field ready to meet the moment with competence, character and deep-rooted city management experience, which is perhaps why Kathryn stands out.”

Scott Stringer, a former city comptroller whose bid for mayor in 2021 was derailed by sexual misconduct allegations, has had conversations with former staffers about moving quickly to run in a special election, according to a person who was familiar with the matter, the paper said.

Progressive leaders say that the mayor’s low approval rating shows that his budget cuts are unpopular, and they are hoping to capitalize on his weakened political position by pushing to raise taxes on the wealthy.

“What we hear from this poll is that New Yorkers are asking elected officials to invest in a progressive agenda – affordable housing, schools, sanitation, libraries,” said Ana María Archila, a State Director of the Working Families Party, which has had conversations with left-leaning candidates about running against Adams.

Diana Ayala, the Deputy Speaker of the City Council who is considering running for mayor, said that Adams had undermined the Council and refused to work with leadership. “He’s arrogant, and that arrogance is not helpful,” she said.

Shahana Hanif, a chair of the Council’s progressive caucus, said of Adams’ troubles that, ““These incidents are emboldening our colleagues to feel like this is a mayor who doesn’t have his campaign, personal life, nor the city’s best interests at heart. He is a mess.”

Then there’s Adams tangling with Lander, especially over the Turkish question. Earlier, Adams mocked Lander’ left-leaning policies and now Landers has struck back over Adams being close to Turkish officials.

“Turkey should have a special place on your Thanksgiving table,” Lander’s fund-raising email said before that holiday. “And that’s the only kind of special treatment that Turkey should have in New York City.”


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