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What Bostonians need to know about the NYC mayoral election

New York City mayoral candidate Kathryn Garcia handed out campaign information while walking with Assembly Member Danny O’Donnell.Michael M. Santiago/Getty

Voting is underway in New York City for primary election for mayor. The election will likely garner a lot of national media attention and serve as an interesting indicator as to where the progressive wing of the Democratic Party is in the Biden era. The current mayor, Bill de Blasio, is not seeking reelection.

Q: But why should anyone in Boston care?

A: The large field of candidates in New York is not unlike what is happening in the large field for Boston mayor this year, another (somewhat) open contest. The field of candidates in New York City is diverse, and most would represent a historic first should they win the race. Further, there are also a lot of very progressive candidates splitting up the liberal vote, helping more moderate candidates lead in the polls. There are signs the same dynamic has been playing out here in Boston.

Also, who becomes New York City mayor does matter nationally. The last three mayors have run for president.


Lastly, there is that whole New York-Boston rivalry, and it is important for those of us up north to simply keep tabs.

Q: And how is that rivalry going?

A: Let’s put it this way: First, we got a guy from Medford to lead New York City. Then we got bolder. The current mayor is from Cambridge and is still openly a Red Sox fan. That is like CIA-level maneuvering. So it’s going great.

Q: Great for us, but is he great for New York?

A: They don’t think so, no.

Q: So are any Red Sox fans running this time?

A: No, but a few of them pledge to be Mets fans over Yankees. So that’s something.

Q: Buckner.

A: I know.

Q: So who is running?


A: There are eight leading candidates. Most are people who have little name recognition outside New York, except for Andrew Yang, who ran for president in 2020. In addition to Yang, there is Brooklyn borough president Eric Adams, who is considered among the most moderate in the field; former sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia, who has had momentum ever since the New York Times endorsed her when she was badly losing; former aide to the current mayor Maya Wiley; former Citigroup executive Raymond McGuire; city comptroller Scott Stringer; former US Housing and Urban Development secretary Shaun Donovan; and nonprofit executive Dianne Morales.

Q: Yang, the universal basic income guy?

A: That’s him.

Q: Is he going to win?

A: When the race began, it certainly looked that way. He had name recognition and funding and was constantly finding ways to get in the news. In fact, for a while, it was basically Yang on top with everyone swirling around below him.

Q: So who is leading now?

A: That is a really hard question to answer. Polls are all over the place, but most lately have Yang dropping and Adams in the lead. But it’s complicated: For the first time, New York City will use ranked-choice voting, so voters are allowed to rank up to five candidates in order of preference. I’ll spare you the particulars of RCV on this race, but the candidate someone picks as their second choice ― or their third ― will likely decide who wins.


Q: Anything else stand out about the candidates?

A: Most have either failed to catch on or been basically a mess. Donovan didn’t even come close to getting the median price of a house in Brooklyn right despite the fact that he ran housing departments for both New York and America. Stringer was caught up in a #MeToo issue that some later saw as unfair, but he was already sunk by then. Yang got busted for living upstate during at least some of the pandemic. No one really knows where Adams lives these days and it might be New Jersey. Morales had all this progressive momentum and was the dark horse to watch, and then her own staff turned on her as they tried to organize a union in the campaign. Wiley had a moment where national progressives (including Senator Elizabeth Warren) endorsed her en mass hoping to swing energy to her, but results of that effort appear mixed.

Q: Those are all Democrats though. This is a primary. So who is running in the Republican primary? Shouldn’t this be Ivanka Trump’s moment?

A: Nah, she took her talents to South Beach. Honestly, there are two Republicans running and they don’t seem to stand a chance. Hence the results from Tuesday really matter since they basically decide who the next mayor will be.

James Pindell can be reached at Follow him @jamespindell and on Instagram @jameswpindell.