News & Politics

Scott Stringer readies primary challenge to Mayor Eric Adams

Stringer launched an exploratory committee on Thursday, which will allow him to raise funds for a primary challenge against Adams in next year’s mayoral race.

Scott Stringer with supporters during the 2021 mayoral primary.

Scott Stringer with supporters during the 2021 mayoral primary. Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images

Scott Stringer is taking the first steps to primary Mayor Eric Adams.

The former New York City comptroller, lost to Adams in the 2021 Democratic mayoral primary, launched an exploratory committee on Thursday morning to raise funds for a potential mayoral campaign in 2025. Though others have hinted at mayoral aspirations, he is the first candidate to launch an exploratory committee.

“It's become clear to me over the last two years that the city needs a new direction,” Stringer told City & State in an interview late Wednesday night. “We need to tackle some of the most pressing issues New Yorkers have seen in a generation. To me, the mayoralty is an opportunity to build comprehensive affordable housing, invest in education and also bring to the forefront my financial skills.”

In his pitch to voters, Stringer plans to highlight his deep familiarity with city government and to contrast his own management of the city’s finances with what he sees as the Adams administration’s erratic leadership style. “As comptroller, I know the fiscal health of the city like the back of my hand,” Stringer said. “I've audited every city agency. So I think we need to create a new paradigm in government or bring us back to an era when transparency was key.”

“I think there's no rhyme or reason to what the real policies of the administration are,” he added. “From week to week, it's a different strategy, it's a different announcement, but we’re not getting the job done. I think we need a mayor who will be focused on short-term and long-term planning.”

Multiple other people are rumored to be considering a run for mayor, including former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso, state Sens. Zellnor Myrie and Jessica Ramos, Comptroller Brad Lander and Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine. Those rumors intensified after the FBI confiscated Adams’ phones in November as part of an investigation into his campaign finance practices. Adams has not been accused of wrongdoing.

Stringer plans to run as a pragmatic progressive slightly to Adams’ left. Where Adams has argued that New York should not be legally obligated to house all homeless individuals in New York and has encouraged migrants not to come to the city, Stringer said he supports the right to shelter and wants to encourage people – including asylum-seekers – to continue to come to the city. 

A key part of his Stringer’s platform will be a massive expansion of affordable housing in order to house migrants and others in need of shelter. “We need a full-on affordable housing construction plan, similar to what Wagner did with public housing, what the Legislature did with Mitchell-Lama housing, what Koch did in terms of rehabbing abandoned buildings, the work of Bloomberg and de Blasio in this effort,” he said. “This is the first time where we've actually seen so few housing units built. It's caused a crisis for migrants, for the homeless and for people who want to come here and live here and can't afford a place to stay.”

Stringer has had a long career in elected office. He served as an Assembly member representing Manhattan’s Upper West Side from 1993 to 2005. He then served eight years as Manhattan borough president and another eight years as city comptroller, before launching his first campaign for mayor in 2021. In the first round of ranked-choice voting, Stringer came in fifth place with 5.5% of the vote. Since the end of that campaign, Stringer has worked as a consultant.

When he ran for mayor in 2021, Stringer initially received endorsements from a number of prominent progressive politicians he had mentored and organizations like the Working Families Party. But his campaign was derailed when the WFP and others rescinded their endorsements after a woman came forward and claimed that Stringer had sexually assaulted her while she was working on his unsuccessful 2001 campaign for public advocate. Stringer has strenuously denied the allegation, insisting that he and the woman were involved in a casual relationship, and attempted to sue her for defamation, though the lawsuit was dismissed on procedural grounds.

Stringer, who is white, said that he is not concerned about the racial dynamics of a potential challenge to Adams, who is only the second Black mayor in the city’s history. “I've run in many races,” he said. “I've run against all kinds of people from all different backgrounds – men, women, people of color, white guys. You name it, I've had an opponent that reflects the city of New York.”

Stringer said that he has known Adams for more than 30 years and considers him a friend. He said that he would not expect Adams to make the race personal but just focus on the issues facing the city. (Given Adams’ personal attacks on political opponents like Lander and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, that may be wishful thinking.)

In any event, he has not technically declared that he’s challenging Adams. For now, he’s technically just exploring the possibility of a run. Stringer said that he expects to make a final decision on whether to run later this year. In the meantime, he’s embarking on a listening tour to hear from potential voters – and raise money for next year’s potential campaign.

“I'm going to be holding house parties and discussions at community meetings with stakeholders around New York,” he said. “I'm going to talk to people and meet them where they live. We’re going to talk about the economy, we're going to talk about affordability, we’re going to talk about making sure that people believe this is an aspirational city for all people. And I'm excited to get started.”