Garcia on the upswing – POLITICO

Kathryn Garcia is leading the Democratic field of New York City mayoral contenders, with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams hot on her trail, according to a new poll four weeks ahead of Election Day.

The survey, conducted by Emerson College and PIX11 News and obtained by POLITICO ahead of its planned release at 6 p.m., signals a reshaping of the top tier in the eight-person field. Until now, Adams and former presidential contender Andrew Yang have traded first and second place in every poll.

Emerson found Garcia with support from 21 percent of the 570 likely voters surveyed Sunday and Monday. Adams trailed closely with 20 percent, followed by Yang at 16 percent and City Comptroller Scott Stringer at 10 percent, according to a screenshot of the results obtained by POLITICO.

The poll marks a dramatic rise for Garcia since Emerson in mid-May found her at just 8 percent. This is the third poll in the mayoral race conducted by Emerson.

The New York Times reports today that polling firms that regularly surveyed voters in 2013, the last time the mayor’s seat was open, have taken a pass this cycle, citing the advent of ranked-choice voting as an excuse.

Maya Wiley adviser Jon Paul Lupo threw some cold water on Emerson’s methodology.

“Gonna go ahead and take this one with a massive grain of salt. Since I got this text asking me to participate yesterday,” Lupo tweeted today.

IT’S TUESDAY, MAY 25: Welcome to PM Playbook, an afternoon check-in to spill the day’s tea — as we know it thus far — during one of the busiest seasons in New York politics. It’s the email version of the sweet caffeine that carries your brain from lunch to dinner. Got tips or suggestions? Shoot an email to [email protected] in Albany and [email protected] in NYC or send a shout on Twitter.

SAID TODAY: On the one-year anniversary of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Mayor Bill de Blasio said he regrets taking five years to fire Daniel Pantaleo, the police officer who killed Eric Garner in a police chokehold. The mayor again blamed the Justice Department, led at the time by President Barack Obama and then President Donald Trump, for slow-walking the investigation.

“I believed at the time that the right thing to do was to defer to the U.S. Department of Justice,” de Blasio said today. “That proved to be a mistake. I own that. I will never let that happen again on my watch, and of course I hope we never have occasion to even have to consider it again on my watch.” — Madina Touré

YANG denounced attacks on him by rival candidates for playing into anti-Asian racism, tying broadsides against him to a spike in hate crimes in the city. Yang stood with his wife, Evelyn, today outside a Queens subway station where an Asian man was shoved onto the train tracks, denouncing a New York Daily News cartoon portraying him as a tourist, as well as broader attacks questioning whether he is a true New Yorker.

“Hate is tearing our city apart, and we need it to stop, we need it to end. Some of my opponents in this race have actually characterized some of us as being more New York than others — as if some of us belong here more than other people,” Yang said. “And I am here to say that that is wrong. None of us is more New York than anyone else. We all belong here.”

Yang was mocked on Twitter after telling an interviewer his favorite subway station is Times Square, near his home in Hell’s Kitchen. The comment inspired a cartoon by Daily News cartoonist Bill Bramhall portraying Yang emerging from the station as a shopkeeper comments, “The tourists are back,” which has been denounced for portraying Yang using stereotypes of Asians. — Erin Durkin

— Two competing Satmar Hasidic sects are uniting to endorse Yang for mayor, according to two sources familiar with the decision. An ad is expected to run on Wednesday in several Yiddish newspapers that will list Yang as the community’s first choice for mayor, followed by Adams as the second choice and Stringer as third. — Hannah Dreyfus

WILEY won the endorsement of former Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards this morning, warning that if New Yorkers don’t back the former City Hall attorney, a moderate could head to Gracie Mansion on Jan. 1, 2022, “Maya can win this race. She has what it takes, and it’s time, I believe as progressives, to coalesce around the progressive candidate who can break through, and that’s Maya Wiley,” Richards said outside the Phelps House on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. “We all know as progressives what happens when we split our votes: The status quo wins.”

Wiley’s campaign said they’re seeking more voters to rank the candidate for that first spot as a strategy to surge ahead of frontrunners Andrew Yang and Eric Adams. A recent poll simulation found that Wiley placed third in the June 22 rank choice voting primary. Richards cited Wiley’s care plans as the reason for her endorsement, saying the mayoral candidate “has led” and is focused on child and elder care. “To recover from the pandemic, we have to recover with equity, and that’s what Maya understands how to do,” Richards said. — Amanda Eisenberg

GARCIA was endorsed by the New York League of Conservation of Voters today, marking her first endorsement from a major environmental group as she looks to use her climate credentials to appeal to progressive voters. Garcia outlined several environmental items she would seek to accomplish if she becomes mayor, including greening every school roof and creating a resiliency plan for all 520 miles of city coastline. She also pledged to bury utility lines underground, focusing on neighborhoods considered most vulnerable. “Environmental justice will be central to my administration,” Garcia said. “We’ll fight the toxic legacy of environmental racism and make sure that all New Yorkers have green spaces, safe water and clean air.” — Danielle Muoio

ADAMS AND YANG received support from another billionaire looking to influence the June 22 primary. Investor and New York Mets owner Steven Cohen ponied up $1 million, split evenly between two political action committees, according to filings from the state Board of Elections. Strong Leadership NYC, run by charter school proponent Jenny Sedlis, is supporting Adams, and Comeback PAC, run by political consultant Lis Smith, is supporting Yang. Neither is legally allowed to coordinate with the campaigns. The two hopefuls have been leading most polls. And along with convincing New York Democratic voters, they have also won adulation from conservatives for their support of charter schools and their call to balance modest police reform with beefing up certain types of enforcement. Cohen has donated to both Republicans and Democrats in recent years, and his largesse has included a $1 million contribution to the inauguration of former President Donald Trump. — Joe Anuta

“SHAUN DONOVAN was detained at a lower Manhattan police station for about an hour this morning after he joined about a half-dozen protesters to block traffic in remembrance of the killing of George Floyd. Donovan, who wore a black-and-white ‘BLACK LIVES MATTER‘ t-shirt, kneeled with the demonstrators, stalling traffic at a ramp onto the Holland Tunnel in Tribeca.” — The Daily News’ Tim Balk

— Flashback: As much as he bashes him, Donovan is taking a page from the de Blasio playbook. The mayor was arrested during his successful primary run in 2013, protesting the closure of Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn.

READ ALL OF POLITICO’s coverage of the New York City mayor’s race. No outlet has covered more ground in the 2021 Democratic primary than POLITICO New York and we’ve got all of the big scoops, analysis, policy and polls in one convenient location. We’ve also included some candidate interviews from our colleagues in the news and civic arena. This page will be updated daily with all of the latest as we barrel toward June 22.

POLITICO will be co-hosting three NYC debates in June with NBC 4 New York/WNBC and Telemundo 47/WNJU in the races for mayor and comptroller. Moderators include City Hall Bureau Chief Sally Goldenberg, WNBC political reporter Melissa Russo, WNBC news anchor David Ushery and WNJU morning news anchor Allan Villafana. More info here.

THE RACE FOR THE OTHER PLACE: Dutchess County Executive and former Republican gubernatorial candidate Marc Molinaro is backing U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin as the party’s choice to run for governor in 2022. Molinaro had been weighing his own run this year. “The truth of the matter is we need good people who will stand up and fight for ordinary New Yorkers, and Lee Zeldin not only understands that, but has done it as a Congressman and has done it in the United States Armed Services,” Molinaro said in a statement. “This is an individual who understands the history and the value of good people who simply stand firm in what they believe and stand up for the people they serve, and for that reason I proudly endorse Lee Zeldin for Governor.” — Anna

The SENATE and ASSEMBLY are both in. The Senate is scheduled to vote on a bill to change the structure of appointments to the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, which are currently dominated by the governor and legislative majorities. It would also establish a straight majority vote for the body’s executive director.

The Senate will also advance a group of anti-harassment bills that would require JCOPE to develop anti-harassment training for registered lobbyists, would prevent campaign funds from being used for personal legal fees, ban “no rehire” clauses in settlement agreements for workers who have filed a claim against their employer, and extend the statute of limitations on workplace harassment and discrimination claims. The Assembly has not yet committed to advancing similar legislation.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO has nominated Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas and Administrative Judge Anthony Cannataro to the New York State Court of Appeals, according to his office.

More from New York Law Journal’s Ryan Tarinelli: “Cannataro is the citywide administrative judge for the civil court of New York City. Voters elected him to the state Supreme Court in 2017 and he was elected in 2011 to the New York City civil court, according to his biography. Singas is the district attorney for Nassau County. If approved by the state Senate, Singas would succeed outgoing Judge Leslie Stein, who is planning to retire in early June. Stein says she’s stepping down to give attention to her family and personal interests. Singas was one of seven women nominated for Stein’s position by the Commission on Judicial Nomination. Cannataro would fill the open seat left vacant by Judge Paul Feinman, who was the first openly gay member on the state’s top bench and abruptly retired from the court in March due to health concerns. He died just over a week after his retirement. The nomination process now heads to the state Senate, which must approve or reject Cuomo’s nominees.”

Housing: The City Council is poised to approve legislation that would substantially increase the value of city housing vouchers for families coming out of homeless shelters. The vouchers, known as CityFHEPS, have been criticized for years as being far out of step with the city’s rental market — making it exceedingly difficult for people in shelters to find an apartment their rental assistance will actually cover. Council Speaker Corey Johnson announced a deal on the measure today with Christine Quinn, head of the shelter provider Win, and other homeless advocates, which have been pushing the measure for years. “Expecting a family of four to find an apartment for $1,580 a month in New York City is just absurd,” Johnson said in a statement. “Yet that’s what we’ve done for years and then wondered why our homeless shelters were full.”

Proponents say the legislation, which was pushed by Council Member Steve Levin, will make homeless families able to rent tens of thousands of additional apartments using the vouchers. For a family of four, for example, the current voucher value of $1,580 would be raised to $2,217. The measure will also significantly increase the price tag of the program for the city, though proponents say it will reduce the amount the city needs to spend on shelters. Quinn said in a statement the current voucher system for those in shelters “never delivered them solutions that could help — a cruel bait-and-switch that left families struggling.” The Council is slated to vote on the bill on Thursday. — Janaki Chadha

Campaign finance: Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan will announce on Wednesday the first round of endorsements for his new leadership PAC that aims to support candidates with service-oriented backgrounds throughout the state. The list includes Gwen Wright, the Democrat taking on Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin. Ryan has been building his statewide profile in advance of a year where the statewide Democratic ticket might contain more openings than at any point in recent history. Ryan’s list also includes four candidates for New York City Council: Felicia Singh, Briget Rein, Edwin Raymond, and Rita Joseph. And lest anybody think people from that part of the Hudson Valley can’t influence New York City elections, remember that one of the mayoral race’s frontrunners is a part-time resident of the Ulster town of New Paltz. — Bill Mahoney

Editor’s note: Due to an editing error, the morning edition of New York Playbook mischaracterized the return of “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” The show will return with a full-capacity, all-vaccinated studio audience on June 14.

— A 15-year-old girl was shot to death a few blocks from the governor’s mansion.

— A subway conductor in Manhattan was assaulted by a passenger.

— SUNY New Paltz President Donald Christian said he will retire next June. He has been president since 2011.

— A new poll shows Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren trailing in next month’s primary election.

— A state task force painted a grim picture of the child care crisis in New York.

— Legislation would divest the teachers’ pension fund from coal companies.