Sharpton Opts To Stay Neutral In Primary Election, Advocating For Early Voting Instead

On the first day of early voting for the June 22nd primary, Reverend Al Sharpton announced he won’t endorse any candidate for any race, including those running for mayor, despite having told reporters late May he would. Instead, Sharpton joined top mayoral candidates to press upon members of his National Action Network to vote and do so early.

“I said that I would make a decision by early June and I would decide whether I was going to endorse and who I was going to endorse,” Sharpton told Gothamist/WNYC Saturday at his headquarters in Harlem. “There’s no one here who’s saying something so egregious that I had to come in and had to stop somebody, so I decided to put my time in ranked-voting.”

Sharpton, who previously said he wants a mayor who can “bring the city back and bring it back more fairly,” plans to release a series of television ads and hold events ahead of primary day encouraging everyone to vote. Sharpton said some of the candidates will join him on his small tour, but did not disclose who.

Sharpton held a lengthy mayoral forum on May 25th with seven of the the top eight candidates who outlined their experience. At the time, Sharpton said a decision would come two weeks before the June 22nd primary.

Instead, Sharpton said he called the candidates on Friday saying he would be staying out of the race.

Five candidates came to his Saturday event—Maya Wiley, Eric Adams, Andrew Yang, Ray McGuire, and Scott Stringer—to make their pitch to the audience on Saturday while also pushing New Yorkers to vote early. Kathryn Garcia, Shaun Donovan, and Dianne Morales were not there on hand. Donovan was invited in the last minute, but couldn’t make it due to scheduling conflicts.

Speaking to reporters shortly after making his case to an audience, which was live streamed and to the in-person audience, Adams was respectful of Sharpton’s neutrality. Adams stressed that he was endorsed by Sharpton’s daughter, Ashley, recently.

“You heard her powerful inflection of what I have done and no one can tell your resume better than a person who brings their clear message of what I have represented,” Adams said. “Ten more days to go.”

Yang was just as gracious, telling reporters he understood the importance of early voting over receiving an endorsement.

“I agree with his message of getting out the vote and championing ranked-choice voting. We should get everyone to the poll starting today and we should make ranked-choice voting is a success,” Yang said.

McGuire did not explain whether he was surprised over the lack of an endorsement, saying you “never expect an endorsement until they come.”

Wiley and Stringer were not available for comment.

Sharpton had ultimately stayed neutral during the open Democratic primary for mayor in 2013 between then candidate Bill de Blasio and rival William Thompson.

Early voting began Saturday, with a long list of races on the ballot. On top of the mayor’s race, there are contests for comptroller, borough president, public advocate, and Council races.

While Sharpton emphasized he will not endorse, he did made a plea for voters to pay attention to the issues impacting the city and not the sideshows. He specifically cited the controversy surrounding Adams and whether he really lives in Brooklyn.

“When you have record homelessness, that somebody got a girlfriend in Jersey it has nothing to do with what’s going on,” Sharpton. “And we know when people are playing a game and throwing dog whistles.”

Early voting ends on June 20th.

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