The major 2021 New York City mayoral contenders

Andrew Yang
Andrew Yang
Ben Von Klemperer/Shutterstock
Andrew Yang filed paperwork to run for mayor.

The major 2021 New York City mayoral contenders

What you need to know about the likely candidates for NYC’s top elected office.
March 17, 2021

The field of candidates running for New York City mayor is more or less set, as the June 22 Democratic primary approaches. It’s been a bumpy road to get here. High-profile politicians like Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., former Rep. Max Rose and New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson all thought about running to succeed Mayor Bill de Blasio before deciding against it. Others, like former New York City Veterans Services Commissioner Loree Sutton were fully in the race, before dropping out. 

But out of the crowded field of more than four dozen official candidates, some are standing out. Here are some fast facts about the likely 2021 New York City contenders, in alphabetical order.

Eric Adams

Born: 1960

Home: Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn

Current job: Brooklyn borough president

Previous jobs: State senator, NYPD officer

Fundraising: $3.36 million in private funds and $5.2 million in public funds, as of March 2021

Campaign launched? Yes, in November 2020, but he’s been openly running for years.

Why he’ll win: Adams has the political connections and the money, and is appealing to outer-borough voters with his law enforcement credentials and pragmatic politics.

Why he won’t: Adams is hard to define politically, and has courted controversy with comments on topics like gentrification and gun rights. 

Shaun Donovan

Born: 1966

Home: Boerum Hill, Brooklyn

Latest job: Senior strategist to the president of Harvard University

Previous jobs: Budget director for President Barack Obama, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, New York City Housing Preservation and Development commissioner under Bloomberg 

Fundraising: $2.21 million, as of March 2021

Campaign launched? Yes, in December 2020, after filing to run in January 2020.

Why he’ll win: Obama trusted him for eight years, and he’s got real budgetary and housing credentials. 

Why he won’t: Donovan has been a behind-the-scenes guy, and is about as exciting as dry toast.

Kathryn Garcia

Born: 1970

Home: Park Slope, Brooklyn

Latest job: New York City Sanitation Commissioner under Mayor Bill de Blasio

Previous jobs: COVID-19 food czar, interim chair of NYCHA, COO of the Department of Environmental Protection

Fundraising: $590,162, as of March 2021

Campaign launched? Yes, in December 2020, after filing to run in September 2020.

Why she’ll win: If she can win the hearts of the city’s garbage haulers, she can win over anyone.

Why she won’t: It’s her first foray into politics, and the association with de Blasio might not help as she introduces herself to voters.

Ray McGuire

Born: 1957

Home: Upper West Side, Manhattan

Latest job: Vice chair, Citigroup

Previous jobs: Global co-head of mergers and acquisitions at Morgan Stanley, mergers and acquisitions at Merrill Lynch

Fundraising: $7.37 million, as of March 2021

Campaign launched? Yes, in December 2020

Why he’ll win: He’s the proudly capitalist money manager that some New Yorkers have been eager to get back to since former Mayor Michael Bloomberg left office.

Why he won’t: Wall Street is the enemy to many Democratic primary voters. Just look at Bloomberg’s presidential run.

Carlos Menchaca

Born: 1980

Home: Red Hook, Brooklyn

Current job: New York City Council member

Previous jobs: LGBT and HIV community liaison to former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, budget coordinator to former Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz

Fundraising: $87,172, as of March 2021

Campaign launched? Yes, in October 2020

Why he’ll win: He’s a person of color running hard to the left on a record of progressive purity – a formula that’s been working lately.

Why he won’t: He has made more enemies than friends in seven years in the council, struggled mightily with fundraising – possibly because Dianne Morales has all the momentum.

Dianne Morales

Born: 1967

Home: Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn

Latest job: Executive Director and CEO of Phipps Neighborhoods, a social services nonprofit

Previous jobs: Executive director of The Door, chief of operations and implementation at the New York City Department of Education

Fundraising: $547,985, as of March 2021

Campaign launched? She held a kickoff event in November 2020, but she’s been openly running since July 2019.

Why she’ll win: Her unapologetically progressive platform and Afro-Latina identity speak to the political moment.

Why she won’t: She’s new to politics and will have a hard time raising the money necessary to get her name out.

Scott Stringer

Born: 1960

Home: Financial District, Manhattan

Current job: New York City comptroller

Previous jobs: Manhattan borough president, assembly member

Fundraising: $3.47 million in private funds and $4.66 million in public funds, as of March 2021

Campaign launched? Yes, in September 2020

Why he’ll win: Stringer is a political animal, with citywide executive experience, Upper West Side establishment credentials, a progressive track record and endorsements from exciting insurgents.

Why he won’t: Stringer doesn’t fit the mold of the progressive political movement he’s appealing to, and lacks the charisma of his main competitors.

Maya Wiley

Born: 1964

Home: Ditmas Park, Brooklyn

Latest job: Senior vice president of social justice and professor of urban policy at The New School

Previous jobs: MSNBC legal analyst, Civilian Complaint Review Board chair, counsel to Mayor Bill de Blasio

Fundraising: $1.04 million in private funds and $1.91 million in public funds, as of March 2021

Campaign launched? Yes, in October 2020

Why she’ll win: She’s a charismatic #resistance star with police reform credentials and historic potential.

Why she won’t: The first-time candidate worked closely with de Blasio in a year when people are expected to be looking for an antidote. 

Andrew Yang

Born: 1975

Home: Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan

Current job: Founder of Humanity Forward, a nonprofit promoting a universal basic income

Previous jobs: Democratic presidential candidate, founder and CEO of Venture for America, CEO of Manhattan Prep 

Fundraising: $2.14 million, as of March 2021

Campaign launched? Yes, in January 2021

Why he’ll win: Yang is a talented communicator with a regular-guy shtick, who will be talking about the popular idea of giving every New Yorker money every month.

Why he won’t: Yang is a total newcomer with limited knowledge and connections in city politics, who won’t have the benefit of low expectations anymore, like he did in his presidential run.

Other New Yorkers who have filed with the Campaign Finance Board to run for mayor but are unlikely to impact the race include: Muhammad AbdulMalik, Nicolae Bunea, David Catapano, Art Chang, Kevin Coenen, Edward Cullen, Avatar Davi, Thomas Downs, Guiddalia Emilien, Vitaly Filipchenko, Cleopatra Fitzgerald, Raja Flores, Aaron Foldenauer, Quanda Francis, Garry Guerrier, Peter Guimaraes, Walter Iwachiw, Max Kaplan, Barbara Kavovit, Beverly Kolber, Christopher Krietchman, Abbey Laurel-Smith, Fernando Mateo, Aaron Miles, Devi Nampiaparampil, Wanda Nuñez, Grady O’Bryant, Elizabeth O’Hagan, Adam Oremland, William Pepitone, Angelo Pinto, Cardon Pompey, Paperboy Prince, Stacey Prussman,Stephen Seely, Ira Seidman, Curtis Sliwa, Ahsan Syed, Joycelyn Taylor, Sara Tirschwell and Isaac Wright Jr.

Jeff Coltin
is a senior reporter at City & State. He covers New York City Hall.
20210615