Why Top Democrats Are Listening to Eric Adams Right Now
When Eric Adams won the Democratic primary for mayor of New York, his supporters in Congress were bombarded with questions about him from colleagues representing the districts of Michigan and Florida, Chicago and Los Angeles.
When a national group of Irish American Democrats recently gathered in Manhattan to celebrate President Biden’s victory, Mr. Adams was also in attendance, touting his admiration for former Irish American colleagues in the police department.
And within a week, Mr. Adams met Mr. Biden at the White House and with the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, on Capitol Hill. He appeared with Governor Andrew M. Cuomo to discuss tackling gun violence. And he stood alongside Senator Kirsten Gillibrand outside Brooklyn Borough Hall, endorsing his proposed federal gun trafficking legislation.
Mr. Adams, the Brooklyn Borough President, has been his party’s mayoral candidate for less than three weeks. But already, many National Democrats appear keen to elevate the former New York police captain, as gun violence shatters parts of major American cities and Republicans seek to caricature their opponents as naïve in the matter. of crime.
Mr Adams, for his part, is seizing the mayor’s chair of bully, moving to cement a national reputation as a Democrat who speaks with rare authority on both public safety and reform. police.
“Every year you have these different playbooks,” said Donna Brazile, former interim chair of the Democratic National Committee who recently met Mr. Adams on the set of “This Week” on ABC.
“He has the commanding playbook at the moment,” she said.
In some ways, this is a difficult playbook to replicate. Mr Adams, who will be New York’s second black mayor if he wins in November as expected, grew up in poverty and says he was beaten by police before joining the force himself.
He spent years calling attention to police misconduct, before becoming the most public safety-conscious candidate in this year’s mayor’s primary. His striking trajectory and promises to tackle inequality have helped him come into contact with a wide range of black and Latino voters and some working-class white New Yorkers. And the buzz around him now is due in part to interest in the likely next mayor of the country’s largest city.
But some party officials and lawmakers also say Mr Adams is offering a model for how to discuss issues of crime and justice, pressing issues for Democratic candidates across the country as the first outlines of mid-campaigning mandate of 2022 are taking shape.
“He is a unique messenger with a message we should all carry,” said Representative Thomas Suozzi, Democrat of New York.
Whether party leaders are ultimately comfortable with Mr. Adams as the national flag bearer will depend on how he governs, if he wins, following a primary campaign in which he has been subjected to scrutiny for transparency and ethics issues related to tax and real estate disclosures. , its fundraising practices and even its residency issues.
But for now, many Democrats appear poised to promote Mr Adams, whose first victory has fueled new debates within the party over which types of candidates best represent the Democratic Party’s base. And the good relationship Mr. Adams is working to build with Democratic leaders could help Washington – where the city already has powerful representation – as New York emerges from the pandemic.
Some argue that Mr. Adams’ victory is a powerful reminder that many black and Latino voters oppose even the most ambitious efforts to curtail police power, even as those same voters insult police misconduct.
Mr Adams insists these views are not inherently conflicting and he has not hesitated to challenge left-wing Democrats squarely on the matter.
Last fall, a conference call by House Democrats turned into an emotional brawl over key issues, including whether the ‘defund the police’ movement had hurt their candidates – a topic that remains deeply divided within the House. party in New York and nationwide.
David Axelrod, the veteran political strategist, said Democrats who think “the police issue has been negative in 2020 for Democratic candidates” appear particularly interested in Mr Adams’ speech.
“Whether they’re in love with him or not, they seem to be in love with his message,” he said. “Adams gives you a way to talk about crime and civil and human rights in the same sentence. “
Mr Suozzi said colleagues in other states took note of Mr Adams’ primary victory and sprinkled it with questions about the candidate. Representative Adriano Espaillat, another New York Democrat who has backed Adams, said he had had similar experiences – and added that a strong relationship between the federal government and the city’s next mayor has implications tangible for New Yorkers.
“We are joined at the hip,” he said. “I’m sure he recognizes it and will try to make his voice heard here.”
Mr Adams is engaged in his local agenda, including weighing his transition, he said. But it also has federal priorities, including a focus on what current negotiations over federal infrastructure and resources to combat gun violence mean for New York City.
“Eric will always leverage the political capital he has on behalf of the city,” said Evan Thies, spokesperson for Mr. Adams.
But given Mr Adams’ message on public safety, justice and tackling inequality, Mr Thies said there might also be opportunities “to talk to mayors who are grappling with the same issues. across the country, and to members of Congress who face difficult re-elections or candidates running outside of New York.
In recent weeks, Adams has appeared to relish his turn on the national stage, declaring himself the “face of the New Democratic Party” even before winning the nomination.
Celinda Lake, who was one of the pollsters for Mr Biden’s presidential campaign, said National Democrats have so far been enamored with Mr Adams’ life story and the diverse coalition he constituted, adding that some believe it offers a vital new perspective on policing issues ahead of the midterm elections.
“A lot of Democrats are really nervous about this issue and are really, really intrigued by the idea of having such a great new voice,” she said.
The day before primary day, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, chairman of the House’s Democratic campaign arm, backed Adams. Less than a week after arriving as the winner, Mr. Adams, rather than the current mayor of New York, was in the White House to discuss ways to tackle gun violence, and soon after, the administration featured it in an Instagram video. Mr. Adams also posed right next to Mr. Biden in a White House photo.
“If it can show that you can support both law enforcement and reasonable reform at the same time, then it will greatly help Democrats’ perception of criminal justice,” said Representative Brendan F. Boyle. of Pennsylvania, an early supporter of Biden. .
Yet many Democrats warn against drawing sweeping political conclusions from a pandemic-era municipal primary that was decided by fewer than 7,200 votes. Mr Espaillat suggested that applying New York City’s deep blue lessons to the midterm landscape has limitations, noting that “it’s a completely different ball game internally in every district.”
And while Mr. Adams won at the top of the list, candidates with messages more to the left won elsewhere on the ballot.
“It’s about having a strong message and working hard, and what a lot of people take away from this election is the separation between what happened at the highest level and what happened. everywhere else, ”said city councilor Antonio Reynoso, who won the primary. for the president of the borough of Brooklyn.
Mr Adams is hardly the first mayoral candidate to be adopted by the National Party early on, reflecting the stature of New York City.
Mayor Bill de Blasio was first celebrated by many Democrats as a champion of economic fairness and police reform, with brilliant national coverage of his family.
But as he faced the difficult realities of governance and his administration experienced many controversies, his star faded.
Still, there is no doubt that Mr. Adams quickly created a nationwide sensation.
Mayor Nan Whaley of Dayton, Ohio, president of the United States Conference of Mayors, has texted Mr. Adams and intends to speak to him soon, she said. She plans to invite him to the conference’s annual meeting, scheduled for Austin in late summer.
Mr. Adams is also navigating critical relationships closer to home. He met Chuck Schumer, the Senate Majority Leader, this weekend. Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, among others, also reached out.
And then there is his dynamic with the governor, a historically strained relationship for mayors to manage.
Ahead of the joint appearance with Mr Cuomo, the governor’s team said the dress for the event involved some connection, according to a person familiar with the conversation. (Mr Thies declined to comment. “We didn’t make any requests, but told them what others were wearing to inform their own decisions,” said Richard Azzopardi, spokesperson for Mr Cuomo.)
When the two men appeared at a Brooklyn church together, Mr. Cuomo was indeed in a suit and tie. Mr. Adams had decided to chart his own course.
“I said it then and I will say it again,” said a stalwart Mr. Adams. “I am the face of the Democratic Party.
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