Primary School 5/25
Fair warning, this is a long one. Yes, even by our standards.
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Pittsburgh Mayor, ballot questions, Allegheny County Council District 9
In a major upset, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto lost renomination to state Rep. Ed Gainey. Peduto faced an onslaught of criticism for his ham-fisted handling of the city’s BLM protests—reflexively siding with cops even after cops beat up peaceful protesters—and for his perceived inattention to the job. It wasn’t just BLM—dissatisfaction with Peduto had been building for a long time, and he was hit with multiple ads in this race alone over housing affordability —but the summer of 2020 is when his administration really began to fall apart, and never came back together. Gainey, who will be the city’s first Black mayor, beat Peduto by winning Black voters in a landslide and keeping it close with Peduto’s longtime base of white liberals, as Trump supporter Tony Moreno peeled off conservative white voters in the city’s outer neighborhoods whose support Peduto might have gotten had Moreno not been in the race.
As the mayor lost his job over his stubborn resistance to the demands of the Black Lives Matter movement, two ballot questions, both relating to criminal justice, passed overwhelmingly: the city of Pittsburgh voted to ban the use of no-knock warrants by the city’s police department, and Allegheny County (a county of more than 1 million residents containing Pittsburgh and most of its suburbs) voted to restrict the use of solitary confinement in county jails. And a reform-oriented slate of Allegheny County judicial candidates, branded as the Slate of Eight, had a good night, too: five of the slate’s eight candidates won slots on the Court of Common Pleas, where nine seats were on the ballot. The only bad news out of Pittsburgh was the fairly easy renomination of conservative county councilor Bob Macey over local teacher Steven Singer, who ran a spirited shoestring campaign in a district where Republicans failed to field a candidate despite a sharp turn towards the GOP in the Trump era.
So much for that tough-on-crime backlash.
Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner, perhaps the highest-profile face of the criminal justice reform movement’s electoral aims, had a much-heralded primary challenge from Carlos Vega, a conservative, carceral candidate backed by the local police union. Krasner won with two-thirds of the vote, and his strongest support came from the working-class Black neighborhoods where violent crime is highest. In similarly high-crime working class Latino neighborhoods, the vote was much closer, but even that’s a poor showing for Vega, who benefited from support of much of the city’s Latino political class and the possibility of being Philly’s first citywide Latino politician. Despite Vega and his supporters making a big show of the recent increase in violent crime in the city, the voters who actually bear the brunt of that increase were distinctly uninterested in the failed old model of incarcerating their way out of it.
Vega’s support came almost exclusively from the famously conservative northeast, where he was received as a god-king, in one (Trump-voting) ward, he got over 80% of the vote. The Northeast, despite casting 19% of the city’s votes, contained almost half of Vega’s voters, supporting him by a 68-32 margin, while the rest of the city voted 75-25 Krasner. The Northeast, it should be mentioned, contains the city’s FOP hall.
As a nice coda to the night, progressive group Reclaim Philadelphia’s own slate of reform-minded Court of Common Pleas candidates did even better than the Allegheny County slate, winning seven of the eight slots on the ballot.
We wrote about three candidates for Allentown mayor last week: conservative city council president Julio Guridy, progressive city councilor Ce-Ce Gerlach, and moderate incumbent mayor Ray O’Connell. In last Tuesday’s Democratic primary, they all lost. We overlooked the candidacy of Matt Tuerk, who does not hold elected office; he’s held a bunch of vaguely corporate nonprofit jobs at economic development organizations, and sits on the boards of a bunch of local institutions. Our mistake. Tuerk’s campaign platform is impressively vague, mostly consisting of promises to form commissions, but it gives us moderate vibes, we guess? Anyway, congrats to Allentown on its new mayor, and apologies from us for overlooking the guy who ended up winning.
Moderate incumbent Joe Schember won a commanding 74% of the primary vote. Conservative Erie School Board member Tom Spagel got 17%, and progressive outsider Sydney Zimmermann got 8%. Disappointing race.
Mayor Eric Papenfuse lost by just 56 votes to City Council President Wanda Williams, who will become Harrisburg’s second Black and second female mayor. Ideologically, Williams and Papenfuse were similar; after all, most of his agenda had to go through Williams, which made it hard for Williams to run against much of his record. But as far as we know, Williams doesn’t make a habit of retaliating against entire news outlets for unfavorable investigative coverage, which Papenfuse does.
Incumbent Paige Cognetti’s 2019 win as an anti-corruption independent was no fluke—she easily fended off machine-backed City Controller John Murray in the Democratic primary, and is a strong favorite to win a full term in November.
Bucks County Sheriff
This one is just funny. Incumbent Milt Warrell didn’t just lose to challenger Mark Lomax following the county party’s endorsement of Lomax amid controversy over Warrell’s Blue Lives Matter-style rhetoric, he lost 40,879 votes to 11,380. That’s 78% to 22%. Incumbent losses are rare, incumbent blowouts are rarer still, but in an electorate this large, losing by that much, and not even being dead or under indictment or anything? That’s amazing. And Bucks County is a white, swingy, suburban/rural county north of Philadelphia; for a tough-on-crime candidate in a Democratic primary for a criminal justice office in 2021, Bucks County might be one of the easiest playing fields around, especially with the advantages of incumbency. Still wasn’t enough to save Milt Warrell from one of the worst incumbent losses we’ve seen in this newsletter’s two years of operation.
Isaac Bryan, the choice of much of the local establishment, labor, and a variety of progressive groups including Sunrise LA and Emerge California, finished slightly above the 50% threshold in Tuesday’s election, meaning he’ll be seated without needing to go through a runoff. Heather Hutt, who had the support of Maxine Waters and her extended orbit, took just 25%.
Moderate state Rep. Daniel Hernandez is running for this open Tucson seat, which will probably get bluer in redistricting. Hernandez won renomination in 2020 over the opposition of the local AFL-CIO and progressive groups thanks to a flood of money from business interests and Republicans. Upon his launch, he was promptly endorsed (via tweet) by a Republican state senator, Kate Brophy McGee, who lost reelection last year. McGee, by the way, isn’t even from Tucson—she’s from Phoenix, 100 miles to the northwest.
Hernandez’s response? “Thanks. Miss you!”
We’ll pass. State Rep. Randy Friese (another moderate) and state Sen. Kirsten Engel (a mainstream progressive) are also running. Engel is the only one who even meets the baseline for what’s acceptable in a young, diverse, Dem-leaning seat like this.
Blue Dog Rep. Stephanie Murphy came into Congress with an upset victory in the suburban Orlando 7th district in 2016, as Marco Rubio was simultaneously reelected to the US Senate. She then immediately began preparing to run against him in 2022. For five years now it’s been an open secret that all aspects of her career path were leading to this. And then this week she announced that she was out. Huh.
This scrambles the career trajectories of more than a few Democrats in the Orlando suburbs, and means that there’s an open seat we don’t get to write about.
We have two candidates for this soon-to-be-open seat, currently held by Val Demings: one potential, and one declared. The potential candidate is former State’s Attorney Aramis Ayala, the chief prosecutor for Orlando’s Orange County and Kissimmee’s Osceola County from 2017 to 2021; Ayala’s 2016 victory was a harbinger of the strength of reform-oriented, decarceral prosecutor candidates in the Trump years and beyond, and she retired out of frustration after then-Gov. Rick Scott usurped her power because she refused to pursue the death penalty in any cases. (Ayala was replaced by a similarly reform-oriented candidate, Monique Worrell, so Republicans’ meddling mercifully failed to reverse the progress.)
The declared candidate is Natalie Jackson, an attorney who has represented the families of several high-profile victims of police violence, most notably the family of Trayvon Martin. Both Ayala and Jackson are likely to run as progressives; Ayala took down a tough-on-crime incumbent prosecutor in 2016 and made the alliances that come with that, while Jackson has described herself as a democratic socialist on multiple occasions.
The domain name micheleraynerforcongress.net was registered on Sunday. There’s a big difference between registering a domain name and actually running (especially since anyone can register a domain name) but it’s just another sign that state Rep. Michele Rayner-Goolsby, a progressive queer Black woman, is interested in this St. Petersburg congressional district. Both serious candidates for the seat at the moment, state Rep. Ben Diamond and former Obama administration official Eric Lynn, are moderate straight white men.
State Rep. Omari Hardy, currently the only well-known progressive candidate in the special election for the seat previously occupied by the late Rep. Alcee Hastings, has an unusual proposition for some of his fellow Democratic state legislators: resign with him. Hardy, a freshman state representative from Palm Beach County, will have to resign his seat anyway if he continues his campaign; Florida’s resign-to-run law mandates the resignation of a state legislator who seeks another elected office. So will two of his opponents, state Sen. Perry Thurston and state Rep. Bobby DuBose. If they resign only once they are legally required to do so, special elections for their seats may not be held until after the start of the 2022 legislative session; if they resign early, the special elections for their seats could be scheduled to coincide with the FL-20 special election. The problem with that is that Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has broad discretion to set dates for special elections (as he already did by setting the FL-20 special election date for January 2022) and could simply delay scheduling even longer. The benefit, however, is that if DeSantis does make the specials all coincide, local and state officials save money on election administration, and hundreds of thousands of South Floridians don’t go without state legislators for most or all of the 2022 legislative session.
But Hardy, DuBose, and Thurston are only three of at least eight potentially formidable candidates already in the race; since the field of candidates seems to have settled somewhat, now’s a good time to review it. This field is ridiculously crowded at the moment. Part of the reason for that is that the seat, itself, is ridiculous: it snakes through South Florida in three separate prongs, like a fucked-up racist gerrymandering fork, collecting as many Black residents of Palm Beach and Broward counties as possible. (Those prongs are, from south to north: Miramar, on the southern edge of Broward County; Fort Lauderdale and surrounding cities, in the center of Broward County; and West Palm Beach and surrounding cities, in the center of Palm Beach County. Connecting the three prongs is a sparsely populated stretch of the Everglades which makes up most of the seat’s land area but just under 5% of its population, with the small Lake Okeechobee agricultural cities of Belle Glade and Pahokee containing almost all of the district’s Everglades population.)
As a result, it’s home to a disproportionate share of the region’s Democrats, and by extension a disproportionate share of the region’s Democratic politicians. And since most South Florida reps have been around for quite a while, this special election is the first chance to move up many politicians have seen; it may also be the last, because South Florida’s Democratic members of Congress all seem to plan on sticking around for a while longer. Anyone looking to climb the ladder has plenty of reasons to jump at this opportunity. Here are just some of the candidates:
Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick is a lawyer and healthcare executive who ran for this seat in 2018 and 2020 as a progressive. She did surprisingly well in 2020, taking 31% of the vote to Hastings’s 69%. It wasn’t close to a win, but given the sheer incumbent inertia of South Florida politics, it was a pretty good showing. She made some relationships in that election with local progressive groups, and for that reason alone could be a serious candidate despite lacking more establishment connections or accomplishments.
Elvin Dowling is an author, former political staffer, and community advocate from Palm Beach County. He seems like a greater underdog than any of the other candidates mentioned here, but he may have connections from his time as a staffer.
Bobby DuBose leads the Democrats in the State House as Minority Leader, and hails from Fort Lauderdale, in FL-20’s middle prong. He practically defines the political establishment in the area, and has a generally moderate record. Despite his stature, in 2020 he only won 70-30 against Elijah Manley, who was running for that race as a backup after his first plan (Socialist Party presidential nominee) didn’t work out.
We talked about Omari Hardy in more detail earlier this month. We’ll reiterate the main point, though—Hardy only turned into a firebreathing progressive fairly recently, but we’re inclined to believe it’s a genuine evolution, because being a progressive politician in Florida is an awful lonely endeavor. It’s not something many pols would do to advance their own careers. He’s from the northern prong of the district, but he’s the only top-tier contender from up there, while DuBose, Holness, Sharief, and Thurston all hail from the middle prong. In a purely geographic race, Hardy could have an advantage despite being from an area that makes up about 25% of the district, if all the Fort Lauderdale-area candidates split the Broward vote.
Dale Holness has been involved in Broward County politics for over a decade now, and is well-liked by the county’s sizable Jamaican population (he himself was born there). He is also endorsed by the late Alcee Hastings’s son. Like most municipal politicians, Holness’s response to the Black Lives Matter protests was wanting. He dreamed up a toothless police review board that he bragged didn’t have the ability “to punish police officers” and then a couple months later got his cousin a high ranking job in the police department. He also stood by Republican governor Ron DeSantis’s appointed sheriff and helped him get reelected in a Democratic primary that year. Another red flag came after the 2020 election, when he backed Mike Bloomberg’s choice to run the state party. From the beginning, he’s been in bed with developers—but, of course, he is one, so that’s not surprising. He is considered a frontrunner.
Barbara Sharief is a Broward County Commissioner; like any Florida politician who wants to go places, she runs a company that defrauded Medicare. She’s a well-known rival of Dale Holness, and their long-waged battle for control over local politics is well known, splitting many politicians into one camp or another. It’s a fight that often gets bitter, such as when her ex showed up at Holness’s campaign kickoff. In one fun little saga, she was fined by the state ethics board for leaving things off her financial disclosure, and then to fix things hired a lawyer who was lobbying her office on behalf of the Florida Panthers. She also seems to have called the cops on a state rep in retaliation for him not endorsing her? While her ethical lapses are more interesting that her day-to-day politics, rest assured she’s quite the moderate there. She is seen as a co-frontrunner with Holness.
Priscilla Taylor was a state rep in the mid-2000s. Then, she got appointed by then-Republican Gov. Charlie Christ to the Palm Beach County Board of Commissioners and served there for a couple terms, before running for mayor of West Palm Beach in 2019 and coming in a tough third. She also briefly ran for Congress in 2016...in the 18th district, which brings up the important point that she’s one of the few candidates to hail from Palm Beach County, in the district’s northern prong. Her mayoral candidacy managed to be both pro-developer and NIMBY simultaneously, and, of course, she favors lowering taxes. She’s got less of the grime of local politics on her than either Sharief or Holness, but less of a chance to win as well.
Perry Thurston is a state senator from Fort Lauderdale, and prior to that represented the state house district that Bobby DuBose now holds. Thurston has been accused of phoning it in lately as a Senator (including in one instance where he seems to have literally fallen asleep during a Senate debate). His politics have been mostly okay, and he did somehow wind up on Holness’s enemys list, so he’s probably above replacement value, but so far he’s had little to offer either. His opening ad is also hopelessly vague.
Bear with us as we also look at two potential candidates.
Hey, remember Wayne Messam? You know, that guy who was running for president and was a constant source of amusement for how anonymous he was? Well, he’s also the mayor of a city, Miramar, that has 140,000 people and is entirely within FL-20. So naturally he’s seen as an inevitable candidate for this race, even though he himself has kept largely quiet on it. Messam’s had a quiet tenure as mayor outside of that whole presidential “campaign”, but he has been defensive of ICE’s presence in the city, much to activists’ anger. However, he’s from Miramar; Miramar is the least populated of the district’s three prongs, but with a population of 140,000, it’s still got a lot of votes to cast.
Bobby Powell is a state senator from Palm Beach. At the moment he’s only considering, and there’s a very good reason for that. Florida has a resign-to-run law, and Thurston’s already running (though he hasn’t resigned yet). So if Powell goes as well, Florida Republicans would then hold a 24-14 majority in the Senate, which is getting dangerously close to a two thirds majority. If a couple Democrats failed to show up one day, the Senate GOP gets free rein, and it would be ugly. Still, Powell is considering running. He’s much less of a character than many other politicians on this list (though his most recent primary was mostly just him and his opponent fighting over whose dad was more of a crook). He backed Bloomberg’s state party chair candidate, so it’s not like he’s the good kind of boring, though.
Tom Suozzi, co-chair of the nihilist bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, is horrendously conservative for a Dem-leaning Long Island/Queens district; he’s also looking at running for governor if Andrew Cuomo finally retires. (Ew, but we feel confident that AG Tish James would defeat him handily, at least.) He desperately deserves a challenge, especially with redistricting sure to push this district further into Queens—which will make the district bluer and more diverse. (Queens is also where Suozzi did worst in his 2020 primary.) And he officially has two: 2020 challenger Melanie D’Arrigo is back for another round with the congressman, and Queens activist Navjot Pal Kaur has launched her campaign after publicly considering a run for a while.
D’Arrigo, who got 26% of the vote to Suozzi’s 66% in 2020, already has the support of a coalition of activist groups, including Empire State Indivisible, a liberal group that helped take down the group of renegade Democrats known as the IDC who caucused with Republicans in the New York State Senate to ensure Republican control of that body until the IDC’s near-extinction in the 2018 primaries and Democrats’ sweeping gains in the 2018 general election. Empire State Indivisible backed D’Arrigo last time, too, but not this early. And D’Arrigo is off to a good financial start, raising $50,000 in her first 12 hours as a 2022 candidate. Closing a 40-point gap is no easy task, but the combination of early organizational support and the guarantee of a tumultuous redistricting cycle together make it easier to envision.
Kaur, a DSA member and Sikh activist, only entered the race today, so it’s impossible to gauge how her launch is going without an announcement from the campaign.
It feels like every week, former state Sen. and Bernie Sanders campaign co-chair Nina Turner gets a new endorsement from a noteworthy progressive, a labor union, or both. This week, it was both: California Rep. Katie Porter and the American Postal Workers Union threw their support to Turner.
Adam Smith has represented a version of this Seattle-area congressional district since 1997, and has quietly worked his way up into House leadership, becoming the chair of the House Armed Services Committee in 2019. Naturally, his politics have been uniformly moderate, and famously progressive Seattle could do a lot better. He already received a challenge in 2018 from Sarah Smith, in which she managed to make it past the primary round by getting 27% to Adam Smith’s 48% (in other words, 36% of the Democratic vote) but then lost painfully in the runoff, 68% to 32%. Sarah Smith was heavily underfunded, and often quite amateur at campaigning, so that result is less discouraging than it sounds, but it still shows the difficulty of competing from the left in a district where Republicans get a say. (Washington uses top-two primaries, like California, where candidates of all parties compete on the same ballot; the top two vote-getters, regardless of party or vote share, advance to the general election.)
A few weeks ago, local teacher and union member Stephanie Gallardo announced her campaign for this district, and was subsequently endorsed by the Seattle DSA, Sarah Smith, and a few community activists. Yesterday, another challenger quietly filed with the FEC to run: Burien (pop 51,000) City Councilor Krystal Marx. Yes, Marx taking on Adam Smith, you’re reading that correctly. Marx was elected in 2017 as part of a progressive slate for the council, in an incredibly fraught election pitting them against a well-organized conservative front. In her time as a councilor, Marx has supported police defunding, efforts to support the unhoused, and the campaigns of Bernie Sanders and Beth Doglio. She also went mildly viral for filming police at a BLM rally saying of protestors, “don’t kill them, but hit them hard.” Marx hasn’t said anything publicly about this election yet; she’s only filed with the FEC to run. While Council for a decently sized city is a good platform to begin a congressional race from, there is a hitch—Burien is in the 7th district. It’s not the worst problem to have. Marx can still legally run, and she’s barely outside of the district boundary, which will get changed anyway for redistricting, but it does mean the voting base she put together in 2017 probably can’t vote for her against Smith.
Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea is running for governor in 2022, challenging Gov. DanMcKee in the Democratic primary. McKee, who ascended to the governorship upon Gina Raimondo’s confirmation as Joe Biden’s Commerce Secretary, is in for a fight, and Gorbea is rumored to be just the first of three big-name challengers McKee can expect to face: state Treasurer Seth Magaziner and Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza are also said to be preparing to run.
In something of a surprise, the Washington Post’s fairly centrist editorial board endorsed Roanoke Del. Sam Rasoul for Lieutenant Governor. Rasoul is one of the two progressives in the race, the other being attorney and activist Sean Perryman. In endorsing Rasoul, the Post passed over Del. Hala Ayala, a Northern Virginia moderate who might seem more the Post’s speed; in fact, they passed over two Northern Virginia moderates (Ayala and Del. Mark Levine) as well as a Northern Virginia progressive, Perryman. Northern Virginia is a huge source of Democratic votes, and the Post endorsement could help Rasoul cut into the Northern Virginians’ hometown support.
Tonight, the LG candidates met for a debate, and we just have to call out the insanity of one of the questions Rasoul was hit with. The moderator asked Rasoul to “assure Virginians that if you’re elected, you’ll represent all of them regardless of faith or beliefs”, because Rasoul was raising so much money from Muslim groups. We ourselves noted early on in the race that Rasoul was doing so well in fundraising partly because he was tapping into a national network of Muslims donors. And we treated it as an entirely normal thing, because it is, or at least it should be. Treating this like some sort of scandal that might make Rasoul unable to govern non-Muslims is clear Islamophobia, and the Virginia Democrats should be ashamed for allowing a Sinclair affiliate to run their debate. They knew letting reactionaries like that run things could lead to something like this happening, and they did it anyway.
The Post reverted to form in the AG race, backing Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, the more moderate candidate, over Del. Jay Jones, who is not a leftist by any means but who is definitely more progressive than Herring. Herring is a Northern Virginia politician, while Jones is from Norfolk, on the other end of the state, and this primary has taken on a bit of a regional tinge; Herring needs to run up the margins in Northern Virginia, and this will help him do so. On the other hand, this won’t impact Jones’s ability or lack thereof to run up the margins in the Hampton Roads area (the multipolar metro area including Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Newport News, Hampton, Chesapeake, and Portsmouth), nor will it move many votes in Richmond, Charlottesville, or southwest Virginia, where neither candidate has a home-field advantage.
How do those literally operatic JG Wentworth (877-CASH-NOW) commercials—you know the ones, omnipresent circa 2010—relate to a Virginia state delegate’s electoral prospects? Let us explain.
Del. Steve Heretick was already in trouble in his upcoming primary; Heretick, a white moderate, faces two Black challengers in a district where more than 1 in 3 residents is Black, and the share of Democratic primary voters who are Black is either a majority or close to it. Nadarius Clark, a faith-based community organizer with the support of Tidewater DSA and well-funded good-government group Clean Virginia, is clearly the stronger of Heretick’s two challengers; Dante’ Walston, a music educator who placed ninth out of ten candidates in his last run for office (a Portsmouth City Council bid in 2020) has raised just $100 and loaned himself $2500. But the relative strengths of Heretick’s challengers aren’t why we’re writing this item. We’re writing this item because Heretick was deposed in a fraud lawsuit earlier this month, and Richmond-area NPR affiliate VPM broke the news of his deposition this week.
Heretick, an attorney, is accused of orchestrating a massive scheme to defraud desperate individuals by duping them into selling their structured settlements on “grossly unfair” terms. Structured settlements are common in personal injury lawsuits; the man suing Heretick, former lumber mill janitor Larry Dockery, lost his arm in a workplace accident—and, apparently, he lost his rightful compensation in Heretick’s scheme. Structured settlements provide staggered cash payouts over a period of months or years; recipients of personal injury settlements may seek to sell structured settlements in exchange for an immediate lump sum lower than the total value they would have received from the staggered payouts. JG Wentworth is perhaps the most famous of the so-called “factoring companies,” and in fact was one of Heretick’s clients. Those horrendous opera commercials burned into your brain? Call JG Wentworth, 877-CASH-NOW? They were preying on struggling people all along, and in Virginia, they were being aided by Delegate Steve Heretick. Not exactly the kind of headline Heretick wants voters to see with the primary so close.
This morning, state Rep. Jon Santiago was endorsed by House Speaker Ron Mariano...who promptly made the endorsement a PR nightmare by saying he was “afraid [his] car’s gonna get stolen” in the South End, the racially and ethnically diverse Boston neighborhood Santiago represents. Nice one.
In other news, the city’s firefighters’ union endorsed City Councilor Annissa Essaibi George, the most moderate major candidate; firefighters’ unions are generally on the more conservative side of the labor movement, so this isn’t a surprise.
NYC Endorsement Highlights
Mayor (see item)
Former US Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan: Bronx CM and Bronx BP candidate Fernando Cabrera (second choice, no first choice endorsement announced yet for some reason)
Scott Stringer: Laundry, Distribution, and Food Service Board (union representing laundry and service workers)
Council Speaker Corey Johnson: Laborers’ International Union of North America, NY
Brooklyn Borough President
Bronx Borough President
Fernando Cabrera: Mayoral candidate and former HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan
Manhattan Borough President
Manhattan CM Mark Levine: 32BJ SEIU
Finance reports came out today in the Buffalo mayoral race, and they show longtime mayor Byron Brown is in for a fight. DSA- and WFP-backed community activist India Walton raised $84,000 since January, while Brown, the mayor since 2005, raised $173,000. Brown has $207,000 on hand, while Walton has $53,000 on hand. Brown has a financial advantage, but Walton raised a sizable enough sum to put herself in contention.
Brown, for his part, is ducking requests to debate Walton—a common tactic among incumbents and frontrunners, but a kinda shitty one.
No new scandals or earth-shattering developments this week. Just a bunch of endorsements that mostly tell us what we already knew—labor unions like Eric Adams despite his conservatism, progressives prefer Dianne Morales but are alright with Maya Wiley, there’s a lot of loyalty to Scott Stringer in organized labor. There were some interesting odds and ends, though.
First, Shaun Donovan accepting the endorsement of Council Member Fernando Cabrera is absolutely disqualifying. Cabrera is a vicious homophobe who once went to Uganda to praise the country’s government for establishing homosexuality as a crime for which the punishment is an automatic life sentence; he later walked it back, claiming that’s not what he meant, but come the fuck on, man. (And this wasn’t even for a first-place endorsement! Shaun Donovan happily stood next to this guy just to be his second choice.) Worse, Donovan then endorsed Cabrera for Bronx Borough President.
A coalition of LGBTQ Democratic clubs condemned Donovan for taking the endorsement. We’ll go one further: Shaun Donovan should drop out of the race and leave politics forever. That’s the baseline for allyship this upcoming Pride month.
Next, Rep. Adriano Espaillat endorsed Adams, which is...eh, we guess it’s not that surprising. Espaillat is kind of progressive in the House, but in city politics, he’s not aligned with the progressive faction. And yet, in a speech announcing his endorsement, Espaillat claimed to be to the left of AOC, bragging that he read “both volumes” of Das Kapital. (Das Kapital was published in three volumes.) We have to laugh at that one.
Finally, we got a new poll, and the result is surprising. It’s Emerson College, so take it with a grain of salt, but a sample of 570 likely voters found that the race’s frustrating equilibrium has finally been upended. After months of Eric Adams and Andrew Yang being the only clear frontrunners, former NYC Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia leapt into a very narrow first place in this poll, riding the momentum of her recent twin endorsements from the New York Times and the New York Daily News. And, if this poll is to be believed, Andrew Yang might...finally...be fading. Garcia, at 21%, is still neck-and-neck with Adams, at 20%, but Yang falls to 16%, and Scott Stringer finds himself in a distant fourth with 10%. It kinda sucks that a Garcia lead is what passes as good news—Garcia is better than Adams, who is basically a Republican, or Yang, who is Reddit’s homegrown Mike Bloomberg, but she’s no lefty. After months of the Yang-Adams duopoly, though, we’ll take it. And despite starting quite low in first choice votes, Maya Wiley nearly beats Yang in the ranked choice counting of the poll, so there is hope yet.
As we’re publishing this, there are reports of a mass staffer exodus from the Morales campaign, including the campaign manager; the dispute is allegedly over issues ranging from pay to workplace treatment. The campaign is denying it for the moment, but there is clearly some sort of crisis going on within the campaign. Details are uncertain at the moment.