Eric Adams is almost certain to win the November mayoral election, but he won’t take office until January — which leaves him facing a challenging five-month stretch as he seeks to retain (or, better, build) momentum without actually holding power. So far, he’s handling it well.
No mayor since Abe Beame, who became the Democratic nominee in June 1973, has had to wait that long — and Beame soon fell into the utter disaster of civic bankruptcy. Adams, by contrast, is coming in after the disasters of COVID and the lockdowns and amid the crisis of rising crime that he’s vowed to solve.
He also has to put some attention to not blowing the general election. That seems unlikely, since Democrats enjoy a nearly 7-1 voter-enrollment edge over Republicans. But Adams surely wants the largest possible mandate, and far-left progressives (police defunders, Democratic Socialists) detest his centrist positions. They won’t vote for Republican Curtis Sliwa, but they might stay home or vote third-party, narrowing Adams’ winning margin.
Happily, he’s not playing it safe by wavering on core issues, particularly crime. “Safety, safety, safety” is still the top of his agenda, he says. Unlike anti-cop progressives, he values the lives wrecked by crime (often minorities) and also knows workers and tourists won’t return absent public safety.
More, he’s laying down clear markers. On Monday, he called for an overhaul of the state no-bail laws and blasted the criminal-justice system for freeing criminals who should be locked up: “We should definitely not be allowing a person that discharges a gun to be out the next day,” he said. Judges “need to do their job and give bail.”
He’s also bolstering ties with a diverse set of powers:
- Adams has begun informal transition talks with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s staff, while quite properly asking for fair treatment of Sliwa, too.
- Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he and Adams enjoy a “true mutual respect and friendship.” Adams has shown he’ll call out the gov on occasion, slapping Cuomo’s recent late-to-the-table initiatives on crime. But the Democratic nominee isn’t burning bridges with a governor he’ll likely have to work with, pulling the sting from those remarks soon after.
- Adams has met with a key business group, the Partnership for New York City. Its president, Kathryn Wylde, thinks he can counter the City Council’s endless attempts to further burden the private sector. And she also praises his focus on safety: “He’s not afraid of the political left,” she cheers.
- He’s built strong alliances with pols ranging from Staten Island Borough President Jimmy Oddo (R) to Democratic Reps. Adriano Espaillat and Tom Suozzi.
- He’s getting advice from former NYPD boss Bill Bratton, who kicked off the Giuliani team’s crime reversal in the ’90s, and from groups like the United Way.
A free thinker, Adams could also reach out to groups progressives despise, like the Manhattan Institute, which played a key role in building the policies behind the city’s ’90s upswing, as well as the Empire Center and the Citizens Budget Commission, whose fiscal advice will be invaluable in light of the monster budget gaps de Blasio’s leaving behind.
In this era of 24/7 news cycles, Adams’ first day in office is light-years away. But that leaves time for plenty of landmines to explode — and vital groundwork to be laid. If he’s as canny a politician as he’s proved so far, you can bet on Adams to keep making headlines that help him start delivering on his promises when Day One finally arrives.
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