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Wave of progressive New York pols, groups withdraw support for Stringer

City Comptroller Scott Stringer. (Photo: Mark Hallum/amNewYork)

A host of progressive New York politicos, including the Working Families Party, withdrew their support of Scott Stringer’s mayoral candidacy Friday days after one of the city comptroller’s former interns lodged a sexual abuse allegation against him.

The withdrawals came down Friday as something of an unofficial verdict in a court of public opinion surrounding the allegations made by a former Stringer staffer, Jean Kim, who accused the comptroller of making unwanted advances toward her and groping her back in 2001.

Stringer denied the accusations, claiming he had been in a consensual relation with Kim. On Friday, reports surfaced that Kim had filed petitions weeks earlier on behalf of one of the comptroller’s rivals in the mayoral race, entrepreneur Andrew Yang. Kim stated that she does not work for Yang.

But the report seemed to backfire on Stringer and instilled a belief among many progressive leaders in the city that his campaign was engaged in a victim-shaming effort.

Stringer has resisted calls to withdraw from the race, vowing to go on to the end. That effort became much more difficult on Friday after he lost the support of the Working Families Party, one of the biggest progressive boosters in New York City politics.

The party had endorsed Stringer back on April 13, but swiftly pulled away from the comptroller in the wake of the sexual harassment allegations against him.

“We approached this moment with the deliberate reflection, discussion and input from members and leaders across the party that it required. Jean Kim shared her experience of sexual assault and Scott Stringer failed to acknowledge and consider his responsibility for that harm,” the WFP said in a statement on April 30. 

The party will now support two other mayoral candidates competing in the first-ever ranked choice Democratic primary for mayor: civil rights attorney Maya Wiley and activist Dianne Morales.

Not long after, a wave of progressive elected officials — Bronx/Westchester Congressman Jamaal Bowman, Bronx/Westchester state Senator Alessandra Biaggi, Brooklyn state Senator Julia Salazar, Bronx state Senator Gustavo Rivera, Manhattan Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou and Queens Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz — offered a short, joint statement indicating that they were “rescinding our endorsement of Scott Stringer’s mayoral campaign.”

Rivera offered a more robust explanation of his withdrawal in a statement to his Twitter account. He explained that the public effort to weaken Kim’s claims was key in his decision.

“I believe that people can make mistakes and redeem themselves, but this requires taking accountability and working to repair harm,” he said. “I cannot stand by a response that does not acknowledge, at the very least, that harm was caused. I cannot stand by a response that instead has caused more harm to survivors across the city.”

Queens City Councilman and borough president candidate Jimmy Van Bramer did the same in his own statement posted on Twitter: “I am no longer supporting Scott Stringer for Mayor. This week was hard, sending support to those who’ve been struggling.”

Previously, another prominent Queens progressive — state Senator Jessica Ramos, who just weeks earlier had appeared with Cruz at a Stringer event in support of street vendors — withdrew her support of the comptroller’s mayoral bid on April 28.

“After hearing Ms. Kim’s account today, I am officially rescinding my endorsement of Scott Stringer for Mayor of New York City,” Ramos said. “After the year New Yorkers have had, we need a leader who can rise to meet the moment and will not be distracted by scandals as our city continues to make its way toward recovery.”

As to the avalanche of lost support, the Stringer campaign hasn’t issued a public statement in response to it. amNewYork Metro reached out to the campaign for comment, and is awaiting a response.

About an hour before the WFP made its withdrawal announcement, Stringer issued a statement acknowledging that some might be walking away from his campaign — but insisting that he has also received enough public support in recent days to continue on.

“I understand that this is a difficult moment for my supporters, and I know that some of them will feel compelled to withdraw their endorsement of my candidacy. This campaign was always going to be about the people,” Stringer said. “I’ve received a lot of support on campaign stops over the last two days, and I’m going to be campaigning in every neighborhood, in every borough for the next two months. I look forward to seeing my opponents on the campaign trail and at the debates.”

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