Today, Democratic voters in New York City head to the polls to cast their ballot for the party’s nominee for the city’s next mayor. The current frontrunner is former state Sen. Eric Adams, who at least on paper seems like a viable candidate. He spent 22 years as a member of the NYPD and claims to be in possession of a unique understanding of the demands of the job.
But whenever he speaks up, he leaves no doubt that he is unready to preside over a city of 8.4 million people. Earlier this month, he said this during an interview:
By using the new technology of remote learning, you don’t need children to be in a school building with a number of teachers. It is just the opposite. You could have one great teacher like in one of our specialized high schools to teach 300-400 students who are struggling with math with the skillful way that they are able to teach.
One can only wonder how many parents of school-age children decided then and there to vote for someone else for mayor.
An even bigger problem for Adams, who is black, is his reliance on the race card as his go-to reaction to words or deeds of his rivals. When candidate Andrew Yang claimed that Adams lives in New Jersey earlier this month, Adams asserted inexplicably that the claim was motivated by racism.
Yesterday in an interview with CNN’s John Berman, he played the race card again, then denied it. He admitted to being bothered that two of his opponents had campaigned together on Juneteenth but denied that his pique had anything to do with race. Watch or read the transcript, which follows.
John Berman: Two of your main opponents, Kathryn Garcia and Andrew Yang, campaigned together over the weekend. That seemed to bother you. Why?
Eric Adams: Well, because it just sent the wrong message. It was on June 19th, Juneteenth, the federal holiday that was just signed into law. They sent a signal, as you have all of the African-American and Hispanic candidates in the race, what message will you send during this time. They were talking about how do you empower various ethnic groups in politics.
Berman: You tell me. What message do you think they are sending by campaigning to together?
Adams: Well, Kathryn Garcia, number one, she stated that she was not endorsing Andrew Yang. Andrew Yang stated that he was endorsing her. And his attitude was just, basically, we want to make sure that we’re keeping Adams and others out of the place of mayor. It just is the wrong message for those in our city.
Berman: Are you suggesting it is racial?
Adams: No. I’m suggesting that those who are running in office in New York, those who are looking at the candidacy in the field, they felt as though it sent the wrong message on Juneteenth to make that announcement on Juneteenth, with all the diversities that was in the field of African-American and Latin-speaking candidates.
Berman: So, your specific problem was the date they decided to campaign together. If they had campaign together yesterday on June 20th, you would have been be OK with it?
Adams: I would have look at it something differently. I think it sent a wrong signal and the wrong message. And that is how many of African-American and Hispanic candidates felt after these stories.
Berman: Some of your campaign supporters are suggesting somehow that by doing this, it works to suppress the votes. I’m not sure I understand how that works.
Adams: Well, I can’t speak on behalf of my supporters but I do know this —
Berman: So you disagree then that it’s suppressing the vote?
Adams: No, no. As I was about to say, I could say this, that African-Americans are very clear on voter suppression. We know about our poll tax, we know about the fight that we’ve had historically, how you had to go hurdles to vote. And so they feel, based on their perception, that it suppressed the vote, then I respect their feeling. It is not for me to interpret their feelings.
Berman: What is your message to Eric Adams supporters this morning, because there is this rank choice system, where people can fill in however many people they want to vote for in order. Obviously, Kathryn Garcia and Andrew Yang campaigned together, specifically, I suppose, endorsed one another. They campaigned together. But is there someone that you would suggest to your supporters for whom you’re their number one choice that they should put in as number two or three?
Adams: Here is my desire for them. I want them to go in first, rank Eric number one, then I want them to look at all the candidates that are running and state, we want to rank them in order that they desire. I want them to participate in the entire process. I know I want them to rank Eric Adams number one. I believe Eric Adams is the best mayor for these times to deal with our economic recovery, make our city safe and end inequalities. I think I fit that description.
Note also Adams’s referring to himself in the third person.