Reporter’s Notebook: The Advantage of Holding Elected Office

Comptroller and Mayoral Candidate Scott Stringer.
Official campaign photo

By Stephen Witt

If one were to look at the coming mayoral primary in terms of voter base, Comptroller Scott Stringer and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams would come up one and two.

That’s because of all the candidates running, Stringer and Adams are the only ones with  resumes that include holding elected office.

Based on this, Stringer has a clear advantage in Manhattan. He represented the borough in the state assembly for 13 years, as borough president for eight, and now as city comptroller for another eight. 

Adams has the advantage in Brooklyn. He represented the borough in the state senate for seven years and the borough presidency for eight years.  

If this voter base holds true, Stringer will carry Manhattan and Adams Brooklyn. That leaves the other boroughs up for grabs with rank-choice voting (RCV) being the wild card.

In the Bronx, Stringer figures to be a slight favorite over Adams, as he enjoys slightly more name recognition holding the citywide Comptroller office, due to Manhattan being closer to the Bronx than Brooklyn.

Queens will be interesting. Northwestern and central Queens is a progressive and Socialists  of  America (DSA) stronghold. Stringer clearly has the RCV advantage here. He’ll share that vote with Maya Wiley and Diane Morales.

In Southeastern Queens, Adams was hurt by U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks and several other Black electeds endorsing Ray McGuire last week. But the sting of that endorsement will also mean that Adams is likely to get a large number of badly-needed second choice votes under RCV. 

Additionally, the more conservative side of Eastern Queens will likely go to Adams as a first, second or third RCV. 

In Staten Island, the city’s only conservative stronghold, one would think that Adams, a former cop, would hold a clear advantage. But in a Democratic Primary where Republicans can’t vote, this could be a toss-up, especially with Stringer wisely hiring former Richmond County Democratic Party Chair Kevin Elkins in the comptroller’s office.

While Andrew Yang continues to lead in the polls, and he along with Wiley, Morales and McGuire make strong cases on how fresh ideas are needed in the city’s post COVID recovery, they are handicapped in not having a tested and known voter base.

Stringer and Adams are veterans of the city’s elections game. They understand the critical importance of identifying their base and making sure they get to the polls on election day.

This is no guarantee of a win for either. But it’s a good thing to know.