After Adams Criticizes the Left, New York Democrats Try to Clear the Air
When Eric Adams arrived at Capitol Hill on Wednesday, he received a warm welcome from members of the state’s congressional delegation – but also a sharp reminder of the importance of unity.
In a closed-door meeting of elected New York Democrats, Representative Nydia M. Velázquez advised Mr. Adams, the Democratic New York mayoral candidate, to avoid any appearance of criticism from members of the delegation, according to seven people familiar with the exchange.
“I said I wanted to remind him that in the age of social media and communications we have to be careful what we say and that it is important that we treat everyone with respect,” said Ms. Velázquez, an emerging leader. of the progressive wing of the party in the state, confirming the account.
His remarks came a day after The New York Post reported that Mr. Adams called Democratic Socialists of America a nemesis during a recent fundraiser. He did not mention the name of Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, according to the report. But some nonetheless saw her comments as implicit criticism of the MP, who is closely associated with the Democratic Socialist Group, especially given Mr. Adams’ reprimand on his police stations during the primary.
“It was important to purify the air,” Ms. Velázquez said. “I said, ‘Look, we have disagreements, and we have different approaches, and we have different philosophies, but that doesn’t allow anyone to disrespect anyone.’ And I want him to know that I’m ready to call people when these things happen.
In a brief interview on Wednesday evening, Ms Ocasio-Cortez declined to specifically discuss the meeting with Mr Adams, but offered him advice.
“It is always a good idea for any mayor to respect all the members who are responsible for representing the delegation, and not just to respect us as individuals, but to respect the communities we represent”, he said. she declared. “I think it’s important to preserve this on a higher note.”
The rally illustrated both the opportunities and the dangers for Mr. Adams, the brash president of the Brooklyn borough who is almost certain to become mayor of New York City, where registered Democrats far outnumber Republicans. He has a penchant for hyperbole and can turn into strikingly sharp criticism of opponents, as he sometimes did during the mayoral primaries campaign. Ms Velázquez’s warning was a reminder that in her view, he risked doing New York a disservice if he went against the members of his delegation.
But for now, members of the delegation and other National Democrats seem eager to hug Mr. Adams, and several attendees said he returned the favor with keen interest in engaging with Washington and reestablish relations after a murderous primary.
“After election day we don’t campaign anymore,” Adams said. “We govern.
Mr Adams stressed to reporters after the meeting that he had not referred to Ms Ocasio-Cortez by name as a political enemy.
The delegation meeting marked an important day for Mr. Adams, who met with some of the country’s most senior Democrats, including Rep. James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, House Democrat No. 3; Representative Hakeem Jeffries, New York’s top House Democrat; and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
“Eric is going to be the mayor of all New Yorkers, regardless of party or ideology,” said Evan Thies, campaign spokesman for Mr. Adams. He did not dispute the participants ‘accounts of Mr. Adams’ exchange with Ms. Velázquez.
Several lawmakers said Mr. Adams approached the meeting in hopes of engaging Democratic lawmakers from all ideological backgrounds, including those who opposed him in the primary.
It was a chance, they said, to forge a strong working relationship as New York City faces staggering public health, safety, education and economic challenges.
Representative Ritchie Torres, an early supporter of Andrew Yang’s mayoral campaign, said Adams “recognizes that the partnership between the New York congressional delegation and the mayor is essential.”
“He basically said he couldn’t be successful without the delegation,” Torres said outside the event. “The delegation is united to enable it to govern New York as effectively as possible. Everything else is secondary.
Mr. Torres and others in attendance said Mr. Adams has shown humility and a clear desire to cooperate.
Representative Jamaal Bowman, a left-wing lawmaker, called the primary season disagreements “water under the bridge,” although he said he supported Ms Velázquez’s remarks at the meeting. He said he and Mr Adams had found common ground on education issues and made sure students received sufficient support. “We have to work together to meet the needs of the city,” he said.
Ms. Velázquez pointed out that they had also discussed issues such as affordable housing, and she pledged to work with Mr. Adams “because this is New York City”.
Mr. Adams, who also attended a Congressional Black Caucus meeting, was invited to the delegation meeting by Representative Jerrold Nadler, the dean of the Congressional delegation, the two said.
After the meeting, Adams said in a statement that attendees discussed issues such as tackling gun violence, doubling federal investments in the New York City Housing Authority, improving education and childcare and the fight against climate change.
He answered several questions from the media, flanked by Mr. Jeffries; Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, chairman of the House Democratic campaign arm; and representatives Adriano Espaillat and Thomas Suozzi, two important signatories.
Mr Adams, a former police captain who sought to tackle police misconduct within the system, ran for office promising to fight both violent crime and racial injustice.
During the primary, Ms Ocasio-Cortez supported Maya Wiley, former advisor to Mayor Bill de Blasio, who called for a narrower role for the police in public safety. After Ms Ocasio-Cortez’s approval, Mr Adams claimed that she and Ms Wiley would “endanger the lives of New Yorkers” with their policies.
After several of Ms Wiley’s more progressive rivals for the nomination faltered, many left-wing New Yorkers rallied behind her. Some of those Democrats have looked askance at Mr. Adams’ political positions, including his membership in the business and real estate sectors and his support for charter schools.
A former senior adviser to Justice Democrats, an organization that played a key role in raising Ms Ocasio-Cortez to Congress, led a small super PAC that campaigned for Ms Wiley and against Mr Adams.
At the end of Mr. Adams’ meeting with the delegation, there was another demonstration of unity between Ms. Velázquez and Ms. Ocasio-Cortez: Ms. Ocasio-Cortez put her arm around Ms. Velázquez, and they left in a prolonged embrace.
Nicholas Fandos and Chris Cameron contributed reporting from Washington.
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