Reporter’s Notebook: A Tale of Two Mayoral Candidates

Mayoral candidate ric Adams gets the endorsment from the 32BJ union. Photo by Stephen Witt

One is working-class. A mother who scrubbed people’s floors and cooked their food. A street kid, who grew up with his six siblings on the blacktops of South Jamaica Queens and Bedford-Stuyvesant.  An ex-cop who went into politics and rose to become Brooklyn Borough President, 

The other is the wunderkind son of Tawainese immigrant academics. An entrepreneur born of the tech age that became a political sensation where his call for a national guaranteed income resonated with the ‘Woke” crowd during the presidential primary. A prodigy who grew up in Westchester attended Phillips Exeter Academy and then went Ivy League to Brown before finishing at Columbia Law School. 

Though their backgrounds are different Eric Adams and Andrew Yang now share one thing. They have become the clear frontrunners in the race to become New York City’s 110th mayor.

Adams all but sealed his status late this morning at Brooklyn’s Cadman Plaza with the endorsement of the 85,000-member 32BJ SEIU union representing airport workers, security officers, building cleaners, doorpersons and school cleaners – most of whom are Black, Brown or immigrants.

The endorsement comes on the heels of Adams receiving the endorsement from the executive committee of DC37, all but assuring him the backing of the largest public-sector union representing about 150,000 city workers. 

Taken together, Adams’ support from these two unions delivers a near-fatal blow to mayoral candidate Comptroller Scott Stringer. Stringer’s coalition of liberal and progressive backers may have held up if he garnered even one of these two unions, but now the “woke” crowd might be sniffing around for someone else to support.

Maya Wiley, left, and Andrew Yang, right. Photo by Dean Moses

And several of these progressives were on hand in DUMBO about an hour after the 32BJ endorsement, when Yang, along with mayoral hopeful Maya Wiley, received the co-endorsement from the Freelancers Union. 

The unusual co-endorsement comes as Yang and Wiley compete with Stringer for the far-left progressive mantle. It also came as a wink to ranked choice voting. Yang and Wiley denied a pact for second-place votes, but both championed the concept. As a strategy, RCV could be the difference in a close election.

One thing for sure. While reporters were hard to find at the presser for Adams, they were swarming like flies at Yang and Wiley’s co-endorsement announcement. 

It will be interesting to see who Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and the Working Families Party support. The working-class hero or the progressive darling with socialist ideas? 

And as I rode the train home, I recalled what a longtime political operative once said to me. “The best candidate doesn’t always win.”

With the city coming out the backside of a health and economic crisis, let’s hope this time the best candidate does.