The race to succeed Mayor Bill de Blasio is hitting a fever pitch as we approach the June 22nd primary. With a crowded ballot — there are 13 candidates on the Democratic line — and a new ranked-choice voting system in play, it’s still anyone’s race to win. New York City is facing historic challenges amid an unprecedented financial and public health crisis, making this year’s election a pivotal one, as the next mayor will help rebuild and recreate the city.
With Republicans outnumbered by nearly 8 to 1, the Democratic primary winner is generally considered the favorite in the general election (though that conventional wisdom has been upended before).
To help voters become better informed, we’ve compiled a list of the current leading candidates, based on previous experience, name recognition, money raised, and how active they are on the campaign trail. We are also including links to our coverage of the candidates and the race.
Early voting begins on June 12th.
This story was originally published on January 26; it was updated on June 4th.
Adams, 60, is currently the Brooklyn Borough President and considered one of the frontrunners. He has offered up his blue-collar background as one of his strengths: a native New Yorker who grew up in poverty and became a victim of police brutality, he entered the NYPD and worked his way up to becoming a captain. He has held up his life story as testament to why he is uniquely qualified to tackle rising crime rates and systemic racism in the police force. Addressing government inefficiencies has been another theme of his campaign.
Adams has also distinguished himself as the top fundraiser so far, having raised $8.6 million, according to the latest filings. His willingness to take money from real estate developers has earned him criticism but he has been unapologetic. “Don’t define your candidates based on the particular groups who support them, because the real estate industry or business industry, local small business owners, they all want a safe city as well,” Adams said on WNYC. (Stringer also initially welcomed money from real estate developers but has since reversed course.) He’s also been dinged for potentially skirting campaign finance rules by taking donations through his nonprofit One Brooklyn.
Over the years, Adams has made headlines for provocative news conferences on everything from a new rat-catching trap to his anti-gentrification speech last year in which he told newly arrived New Yorkers to “Go back to Iowa.”
Personal: He lives in Bed-Stuy. After being diagnosed with diabetes in 2016, Adams switched to a plant-based diet and fitness regime that he said led him to shed 30 pounds and manage his health condition without medication.
Fact fact: At the end of March, he hauled in a twin mattress into his borough president’s office at Borough Hall so he could respond 24/7 to the pandemic.
📻 Listen to Adams talk about his mayoral bid on The Brian Lehrer Show.
Donovan, 55, served as the city’s housing commissioner under Michael Bloomberg before being tapped to serve as President Obama’s housing secretary and budget director. A former architect, Donavan has tried to set himself apart by being among the first to issue concrete policy proposals. Borrowing a concept from Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, he has proposed building a city of “15 minute neighborhoods,” in which residents live within a short walk of all their essential needs, such as a school, grocery, subway and park. Most recently, he released a 4,000-word economic recovery plan that includes a promise to bring back half a million jobs by the end of his four years. Donovan’s father has poured millions into a Super PAC to support his son’s campaign, which has drawn him criticism on the campaign trail.
Personal: Donovan lives in Boerum Hill. He and his wife have two sons.
Fast fact: Bradley Tusk, a former adviser to Bloomberg, unsuccessfully tried to enlist Donavan to challenge de Blasio for mayor in 2017. Tusk’s political consulting firm is now representing Andrew Yang.
🗞️ Read about Donovan’s mayoral launch.
📻Listen to Donovan talk about his mayoral bid on The Brian Lehrer Show.
Garcia, 50, was most recently the city’s sanitation commissioner under Mayor de Blasio.
Although she lacks name recognition, Garcia has billed herself as a “go-to crisis manager” who has impacted the lives of every New Yorker—through trash pickups and the snowplowing of streets. She rolled out a platform that emphasizes battling climate change as well as quality of life issues. She has said she wants to reform the culture of the NYPD although she is not in favor of defunding the agency. In talking about her commitment to racial justice, she has brought up her diverse family: she was adopted and two of her siblings, who were also adopted, are both Black. As part of her recovery plan, she has also proposed building universal broadband and giving free childcare for families making under $70,000 a year,
Personal: She lives in Park Slope. She was married to Jerry Garcia (no relation to the Grateful Dead frontman), but they have since divorced. They have two children.
Fast fact: Garcia has gotten attention for her frankness. In her mayoral announcement video, she said, “The next mayor is going to inherit a shitshow.” She later revealed that the line was improvised and kept in by her creative team. “I don’t usually have a terribly trashy mouth. But occasionally you need an expletive to actually fully describe the situation.”
🗞️ Read about Garcia’s mayoral launch.
📻Listen to Garcia talk about her mayoral bid on The Brian Lehrer Show.
McGuire, 63, comes into the race as the most prominent Black executive on Wall Street, having most recently served as a vice-chairman at Citibank. Seen as the favorite of the business community, he has made building a strong economic recovery the core of his campaign. Specifically, he has said that he wants to create “the biggest job program in New York City history” with a goal of half a million new jobs. But he has also stressed his commitment to social and racial justice, often referencing his upbringing as the son of a single mother in Dayton, Ohio and his encounters with racism throughout his education and career. Last year, he co-authored a report that estimated that discrimination against Black Americans have cost the U.S. economy $16 trillion a year.
His fundraising prowess is expected to make him highly competitive in the race. For the recent filing period with the Campaign Finance Board, he reported raising a little over $5 million, much of it from what appears to be deep-pocketed individuals. More than 90% of his donors gave $1,000 or more.
Personal: McGuire lives on Central Park West. He and his wife, Crystal McCrary McGuire, a lawyer and filmmaker, have a 7-year-old son as well as two children from McCrary McGuire’s previous marriage to the former New York Knicks player Greg Anthony. His stepson, Cole Anthony, plays basketball for the Orlando Magic.
Fact fact: In 2018, McGuire was said to be on a short list of candidates to head the New York Federal Reserve. He is considered one of Wall Street’s top deal makers, and has advised major corporate mergers, including the Time Warner Inc. sale to AT&T Inc. for more than $80 billion.
🗞️ Read about McGuire’s mayoral launch.
📻Listen to McGuire talk about his mayoral bid on The Brian Lehrer Show.
Morales, 52, is a former nonprofit executive who has endeared herself to those on the left. She has called for defunding the police and using the savings toward youth programs, parks and transportation, and for permanently eliminating screenings as a first step toward desegregating the city’s school system. (Morales herself is a graduate of Stuyvesant High School.) Morales has also proposed a guaranteed minimum income for poor New Yorkers financed through a tax on the wealthy but which would not sacrifice other social benefits. She is seeking to become the city’s first Afro-Latina mayor, though in late her campaign hit a series of snags that threatened to derail her candidacy.
First, reporting in THE CITY revealed she’d been stepped down from a post Mayor Bloomberg’s education department after a background check found she’d tried to bribe a city inspector who offered to make a $12,500 water bill go away. Subsequent reporting revealed her longstanding advocacy and support of charter schools, a major turnoff for members of the progressive left she sought support from. Lastly allegations of sexual harassment and pay inequity within her campaign, lead to a string of resignations and firings of several top-level staffers and a subsequent work stoppage called for by a group workers attempting to unionize.
Personal: She lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant, where she was born and raised. She frequently talks about being a single-mother to two children who are now over 18.
Fast fact: After the New York Times glibly noted in a candidate profile that she said she prefers edibles to smoking marijuana, Morales criticized the paper of record in a searing tweet as committing a subtle act of racism and classism. Afterwards, the Times noted her objection and listed a more in-depth description of her positions and education background, which includes graduate degrees from Harvard University and Columbia University.
📻Listen to Morales talk about her mayoral bid on The Brian Lehrer Show.
Stringer, 61, entered the race in September and since that time has racked up more than $8 million in fundraising. As the current city comptroller, he has frequently used his platform to criticize Mayor de Blasio. Although an establishment candidate, Stringer has also positioned himself as a progressive who can “manage the hell out of this city.” He has called de Blasio’s policy strategy a “disaster” and said he would hold the NYPD to higher accountability in addition to cutting their budget by $1.1 billion over four years. As comptroller, Stringer has issued a slew of reports on issues ranging from homelessness, affordable housing, and the pandemic, making him the “policy wonk” candidate. He began his campaign flanked by state Senators Jessica Ramos, and Alessandra Biaggi and Assembly Member Yuh-Line Niou, three young progressive Democrats whom he supported during their run, though all of them withdrew their support after an allegation of sexual harassment made against him by lobbyist Jean Kim. While Stringer lost most of his progressive backers after the allegation, he retained support of the powerful teachers union.
On June 4th, a second woman accused Stringer of sexual harassment.
Personal: He lives in Manhattan’s Financial District. He and his wife have two sons who attend public schools.
Fast fact: For the past decade, actress Scarlett Johansson has been a stalwart supporter of Stringer, holding swanky fundraising events for him. This year, she moderated a Zoom forum for the candidate, with tickets priced at $25 apiece.
🗞️ Read about Stringer’s mayoral launch.
📻Listen to Stringer talk about his mayoral bid on The Brian Lehrer Show.
Prior to entering the race for mayor, Maya Wiley, 56, worked as a legal analyst for MSNBC and a former de Blasio administration official. But like her rivals, she has not held back on bashing her former boss: on his decision to leave the city for stretches to run for president, his management of the NYPD during the Black Lives Matter protests last summer, and how he has managed the pandemic. In July, she penned an op-ed calling for the firing of NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea. A former civil rights attorney, Wiley has vowed to reform policing in New York City by increasing accountability. Her first two detailed policy plans have been on reducing gun violence and evictions. One of her proposals calls for using federal funding toward establishing a citywide rent and tax relief program.
Personal: Wiley lives in Ditmas Park. She and her husband have two daughters and four cats.
Fact fact: Born in Syracuse and raised in Washington D.C., Wiley is vying to become the first female mayor of New York City. She would also be the first Black mayor since Mayor David Dinkins, who served one term from 1990 through 1993.
🗞️ Read about Wiley’s mayoral launch.
📻Listen to Wiley talk about her mayoral aspirations on Brian Lehrer.
Andrew Yang, 46, the former tech entrepreneur, joined the race following a longer-than-expected presidential run. Having amassed nearly 2 million Twitter followers known as the “Yang Gang,” he enjoys high name recognition and has presented himself as a forward-thinking “numbers guy” who can raise New York City out of the crisis with new ideas. Coming into his official campaign launch earlier this month, his major policy platform has been proposing a cash payment to half a million of the poorest New Yorkers, a dramatically scaled-down version of his so-called “universal basic income” plan that he pitched on the national level. (Just $166 a month for 500,000 of the poorest New Yorkers rather than $1,000 a month to everyone.) On the campaign trail, Yang has been criticized for not enough of a grasp of how New York City government functions. Rivals have criticized him for decamping from NYC for his second the coronavirus outbreak, failing to vote in previous local elections, and accused him of not knowing what a real bodega is.
Personal: He lives in Hell’s Kitchen. He and his wife have two sons who attend public school. Yang has been open about raising a son with autism. In addition, his wife Evelyn Yang last year came forward as one of the sexual assault victims of a high-profile Manhattan gynecologist.
Fast fact: Yang’s most successful entrepreneurial venture was a test-prep company for people taking the entrance exams for business school and law school. He later sold the company for the low tens of millions to Kaplan/Washington Post.
🗞️ Read about Yang’s mayoral launch.
📻Listen to Yang talk about his mayoral bid on The Brian Lehrer Show.
More candidates who will be on the ballot this June:
UPDATE: Iscol dropped out of the race on Tuesday, January 26th, according to the city’s Campaign Finance Board website. He has now filed paperwork to run for city comptroller.
Iscol, 42, is a military veteran and the founder of a nonprofit that provides cost-free mental healthcare treatment for military veterans and their families. Like Sutton, he is positioning himself as a moderate Democrat who can forge relationships with business, nonprofit and government leaders. In an interview, he has said that New York City needs someone who recognizes income disparities but who has “Bloomberg’s management abilities.” He has suggested that the city needs to redefine the affordable housing development process with a more community-driven approach—and that nobody should spend more than 25% of their income on rent. He has also called on increasing the number of mental health professionals in the city, particularly in communities of color.
Personal: Iscol lives in Noho. His wife is Meredith Melling, a former Vogue editor who went on to found her own fashion line. They have four children.
Fast fact: Last spring, Iscol worked as the deputy director of the temporary hospital at the Javits Center. He later wrote about the experience in an opinion piece for CNN.
📻Listen to Iscol talk about his mayoral bid on The Brian Lehrer Show.
Update: Sutton dropped out on March 10th; she had been struggling with fundraising.
Sutton, 61, worked as the head of New York City’s Department of Veterans’ Services under Mayor Bill de Blasio. A retired brigadier general, she earned a bronze star during the first gulf war. She is also a clear moderate: Sutton only registered as a Democrat in 2019 after having been a lifelong independent. Citing her 30 years of experience in the armed forces, she has pitched herself as a non-polarizing leader who can bring together the private, philanthropic, and public sectors. In one interview, she called herself “a huge fan of capitalism.” She has also identified high crime as a concern, but argued that police need to build better relationships with the community. Towards that end, she has called for hiring a “public safety czar.”
Personal: Sutton lives in Lower Manhattan with her wife Laurie Leitch, a psychotherapist and consultant. They were introduced and married by the cartoonist Garry Trudeau. Sutton proposed to Leitch during the 2015 Pride Parade.
Fast fact: Sutton was the Army’s highest-ranking psychiatrist. She has made addressing the city’s mental health crisis one of her main campaign platforms.
📻Listen to Sutton talk about her mayoral bid on The Brian Lehrer Show.
UPDATE: Menchaca dropped out of the race on March 24th, citing the challenges of fundraising while also being a City Councilmember.
Menchaca, 40, is a Brooklyn city councilmember who most recently garnered attention for his pivotal role in killing the Industry City rezoning in Sunset Park. Although the developers promised tens of thousands of jobs, Menchaca argued that the deal was going to displace residents and hasten gentrification. Along with Morales, he is among the most left-leaning candidates running for mayor, referring to himself as “an incredibly left public servant.” One of his signature policy proposals is a guaranteed cash program for New Yorkers that he has yet to spell out but which he is planning to introduce into the City Council. He has also embraced investments that would usher in a municipal green new deal.
He holds the distinction of being the first Mexican-American elected to public office in New York City. Like Sutton, he would be the city’s first open gay mayor.
Personal: Menchaca lives in Red Hook. Born and raised in El Paso, Texas, he moved to New York in 2004 after graduating college and interned for then-Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz.
Fast fact: An avid cyclist, Menchaca is seeking to become the city’s first “bike mayor.” Not only does he routinely bike from his home to City Hall, he also does not even have a drivers’ license.
📻Listen to Menchaca talk about his mayoral bid on The Brian Lehrer Show.