McGuire’s millions mess with mayorals

Campaign Confidential is a weekly newsletter that goes out on Tuesdays.
Campaign Confidential is a weekly newsletter that goes out on Tuesdays.
Alex Law/City & State
Campaign Confidential is a bi-weekly newsletter that goes out on Wednesdays and Fridays.

McGuire’s millions mess with mayorals

And more coverage of key 2021 races.
December 8, 2020

6 months and 2 weeks until the 2021 Democratic primaries

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McGuire’s Millions

With more than six months to go until the mayoral primary, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, two of the leading candidates, were fully funded, or close to it. After years of raising money, each had more than $2 million in their campaign accounts, and once the matching funds come in, they are each expected to have somewhere around $7.3 million, the spending limit for anybody taking part in the matching funds program.

Then Ray McGuire came along, and changed the rules of the game. The former vice chair of Citigroup has opted out of taking public funds, which means he isn’t subject to spending limits in the Democratic primary. (Although he still has to stick to a $5,100 per person donation limit.) McGuire’s campaign says he’s already raised more than $2.3 million, and everyone is expecting him to keep on raising – and spending – until he’s well past $7.3 million. The New York City Campaign Finance Board, however, has a fail-safe. If a nonparticipant in the matching funds program like McGuire were to spend half that – $3.6 million – then the spending cap would be raised to nearly $11 million. And if McGuire were to spend three times the limit – nearly $22 million – then the cap would be lifted for everyone.

So Stringer and Adams would have to go back to fundraising, if they want to compete with McGuire’s millions. Why was Adams holding indoor fundraisers during the pandemic? Probably because he feels like he now needs more money to compete.

Will McGuire have Bloomberg money? And how are other candidates handling it? Read more here.

By the numbers

18

The number of times mayoral candidate Maya Wiley has appeared on MSNBC since leaving her role there as a legal analyst in July, per the New York Post (in a story ripped from The Daily Beast). “I thought there was some rule about fairness, or am I wrong?” one unnamed opponent, who was wrong, told The Daily Beast.

Who’s in, who’s out

While Adams and Stringer have been running for mayor since sometime around the turn of the millennium, other potential and rumored candidates are still deciding. Here’s the latest intel. Andrew Yang: Polling and liking what he sees. Likely to run. Max Rose: Almost definitely in. Christine Quinn: Less likely to run now than she was a month ago. Waffling. AOC: Lol. No. 

Weiner Strategies

Former Rep. Anthony Weiner is selling kitchen countertops, but he’s not totally out of politics. “I’m an elder statesman over here!” he texted City & State. “I get calls. I have chats.” He wouldn’t reveal names, but one candidate who has sought his counsel is Hailie Kim, a Hunter College professor running as a democratic socialist in the crowded race for Jimmy Van Bramer’s Western Queens City Council seat. Oddly enough, the New York Post caught them lunching a year and a half ago, but Kim said Weiner has no connection to her current campaign – and for good reason. “He actually encouraged me not to run,” she said. Weiner didn’t recall the comment, but said it sounded like him. “I do tend to be very frank,” he said. Kim’s doing something right – she was just endorsed by state Sen. James Sanders Jr. – but one anonymous Queens politico didn’t think asking a man who ruined his political career and his comeback attempt in sexting scandals and then went to prison was a great source for political strategy. “That’s like seeking dating advice from Hiram Monserrate,” the source said.

Beeper, not speaker

City Council Member Rafael Salamanca Jr. has decided to run for Bronx borough president, which means we’re down to just 12 council members running for reelection next year (not counting Darma Diaz, who took office last week, or Bill Perkins, who probably won’t run). And Salamanca wasn’t just eligible for reelection – he was a potential candidate for speaker. He had never been as openly interested in the job as a certain hardcore punk turned politician, but Salamanca’s exit nevertheless thins the field. At the same time, it opens up a South Bronx council seat, and Salamanca says he’s supporting Ralph Acevedo, district manager for Bronx Community Board 2.

Who’s top tier?

Construction company CEO Joycelyn Taylor appeared with seven other top-tier mayoral candidates at a forum hosted by the West Side Tenants’ Conference on Saturday. And she’s on the list for another Citizen Action-hosted forum on Thursday. Even if the first forummisspelled her name, those are big steps for a candidate who has been largely ignored, except by smaller outlets like Bklyner. Taylor’s fundraising has been weak, she has no political experience, and little support. But in a year in which another woman of color in the race, Dianne Morales, has raised serious issues about the coverage she has and hasn’t received, stakeholders and news outlets (City & State included) should be deliberate about who is and isn’t considered a top-tier candidate. After all, Taylor knows how to drive media coverage when given the chance: tell the Post that homeless New Yorkers should live in the old Daily News office.

Endorsement Watch

Director Spike Lee and former Knicks star Patrick Ewing endorsed Ray McGuire for mayor … Brad Lander announced a number of endorsements for his comptroller campaign including Cynthia Nixon and Council Members Margaret Chin and Debi Rose … the Three Parks Independent Democrats endorsed Mark Levine for Manhattan borough president… state Sen. Jessica Ramos endorsed Juan Ardila for City Council District 30 in Queens … state Sen. James Sanders Jr. endorsed Selvena Brooks-Powers for City Council District 31 in Queens … City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer and Assembly Member Ron Kim backed Aleda Gagarin for City Council District 29 in Queens … Julie Menin got a load of endorsements for her council race, including the UFT, City Council Member Diana Ayala and former City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito … AFT president (and education secretary hopeful) Randi Weingarten endorsed Briget Rein for City Council District 39 in Brooklyn … and other big names were on the host committee for Rein’s birthday Zoom fundraiser, including Rep. Carolyn Maloney, state Sen. Diane Savino and Council Member Danny Dromm … Rep. Nydia Velázquez backed Alexa Avilés for City Council District 38 in Brooklyn … TWU Local 100 endorsed Arthur Schwartz for City Council District 3 in Manhattan … former Council Member Elizabeth Crowley backed Dilip Nath for City Council District 24 in Queens … and former City Council Member Jimmy Vacca endorsed Marjorie Velázquez for City Council District 13, who he also endorsed over Council Member Mark Gjonaj in 2017.

Poll Sight: New York’s Scared-est?

Over half – 55% – New York City firefighter union members surveyed said they would not get the COVID-19 vaccine when it was made available. Just 45% said they would, per the Post. Uniformed Firefighters Association leaders said that members just needed to be told that even people who already had COVID-19 should get vaccinated, but it’s a reminder that the vaccine is going to become a major issue in all the 2021 races very soon.

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Poll: Will you get the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer when the New York City Fire Department makes it available?
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Poll: Will you get the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer when the New York City Fire Department makes it available?
Title Text: 
Poll: Will you get the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer when the New York City Fire Department makes it available?
Caption: 
Poll: Will you get the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer when the New York City Fire Department makes it available?
Description: 
Poll: Will you get the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer when the New York City Fire Department makes it available?
Image Credit: 
FDNY Internal Poll/Image by Alex Law

Staffing Up

Ilana Maier is joining Mark Levine’s Manhattan borough president campaign as campaign manager – she was once chief of staff for an opponent in the race, state Sen. Brad Hoylman … Jeremiah Cedeño, Bronx field lead organizer for Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bronx community organizer for the census, will be campaign manager for Jessica Haller’s City Council run … Phillip Jerez, who was political director on Andrew Gillum’s run for Florida governor, is senior adviser to Shaun Abreu’s City Council campaign … Hamilton Campaign Network is also consulting Abreu’s campaign … HCN is also consulting Rafael Salamanca’s Bronx BP run … and Ray McGuire has announced a bunch of hires including L. Joy Williams as senior adviser, Anthony Hogrebe of Marathon Strategies as a policy adviser, Gregory Smiley of Kirsten Gillibrand’s team as a senior adviser and John del Cecato, de Blasio’s ad man, for media.

Got tips? Email JColtin@CityandStateNY.com or dm me @JCColtin.

District Data

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New York City District 31 Map
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New York City District 31 Map
Title Text: 
New York City District 31 Map
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New York City District 31 Map
Description: 
New York City District 31 Map
Image Credit: 
Alex Law

City Council District 31, in Southeast Queens, covering neighborhoods including Arverne, Far Rockaway and Rosedale. 

Current council member: Nobody, since Donovan Richards was sworn in as borough president last week. A special election is set for Feb. 23

2010 census demographics: 68% Black, 16% Hispanic, 11% white, 2% Asian

Housing: 55% owner-occupied, 45% renter-occupied, 

2013 special election results: Richards: 29%, Pesach Osina: 28%, Jacques Leandre: 13%, Michael Duncan: 11%, Selvena Brooks: 11%, Marie Adam-Ovide: 2%, Saywalla Kesselly: 2%, Allan Jennings: 2%

2013 Democratic primary election results: Richards: 52%, Duncan: 36%, Ricardo Brown: 13%

Who’s running: LaToya Benjamin, Selvena Brooks-Powers, Monique Charlton, Pesach Osina, Latanya Collins, Franck Joseph, Nicole Lee, Nancy Martinez, Pesach Ospina, Jazmine Outlaw, Perri Pierre, Shawn Rux and Manuel Silva. It isn’t clear if all 13 candidates will run in the February special, but it’s probably a good idea – Richards first won in a February special in 2013 and held on to the seat for eight years. Two opponents in that race, Osina and Brooks-Powers, are running again, and Brooks-Powers already secured support from state Sen. James Sanders. Benjamin has deep ties from working in Sanders’ office and candidates like Joseph, Outlaw and Silva will try to follow newly elected Assembly Member Khaleel Anderson’s path to victory as young progressives. 

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Jeff Coltin
is a senior reporter at City & State. He covers New York City Hall.
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