Mayor Eric Adams on Thursday weighed in on this year’s most contentious race for City Council, throwing his support behind incumbent Democrat Justin Brannan over his Republican rival Ari Kagan.
Brannan, who currently represents a southern Brooklyn district primarily covering Bay Ridge, is running in the Nov. 7 general election against Kagan, after the two members’ council districts were combined in last year’s redistricting. Shortly after the districts were reconfigured, Kagan switched from the Democratic to Republican party and launched a challenge against Brannan.
While Adams has had a reportedly rocky relationship with Brannan, he gave the council member a full-throated endorsement on Oct. 27.
“I’ve known Justin for a long time, and he’s always been someone who knows how to cut through the noise to get stuff done,” the mayor said, in a statement. “He is an important leader in the City Council and someone who always puts the needs of the hardworking outer-boroughs first.”
Brannan did not respond to a request for comment by publication time.
The council member is the kind of politically-moderate Democrat, who has twice won in a purple district, who Adams has thrown his support behind in the past.
However, although the two were once political allies, Adams reportedly soured on Brannan when the council member backed Council Speaker Adrienne Adams for her current role in 2021 over his preferred choice — Council Member Fransico Moya (D-Queens).
Political strategist Chris Coffey, CEO of Tusk Strategies, said the mayor backing Brannan in a district that still has a majority white moderate voters is meaningful. The district is also made up of 55% registered Democrats compared to 17% registered Republicans, however, Adams drew slightly less votes there than his Republican challenger Curtis Sliwa in the 2021 mayor’s race.
“I think the mayor endorsing Justin reminds folks that there’s a clear choice between a Democrat and a Republican,” Coffey told amNewYork Metro. “And the mayor’s lining up with Justin and the Democrats, [so] if you want to vote for a Republican, that’s on you.”
Coffey said that while the race will likely be close, it is always a plus to have the mayor behind you.
“All indications are, it’s gonna be a close race,” he said. “And so having the mayor on your side is always beneficial.”
The mayor’s endorsement comes less than two weeks before Election Day and just before early voting starts this Saturday in a race that has been particularly rancorous, with the two candidates constantly slinging mud at one another.
Brannan has painted Kagan as an “extreme” Republican, taking him to task for voting against the Fiscal Year 2024 budget, standing with right-wing figures like Sliwa in opposing migrant shelters and advocating for an abortion ban. He also accused Kagan of soliciting campaign contributions above the legal limit in an email for a fundraiser last month, though Kagan insisted the email was a technical error and no one donated above the threshold.
Meanwhile, Kagan has slammed Brannan for voting in 2020 to cut the NYPD’s budget by $1 billion, advocating and voting for migrant crisis funding in the FY24 budget and his stance on the current conflict between Israel and Hamas.
Early voting begins this Saturday, Oct. 28, and runs through next Sunday, Nov. 5. For more voting information, visit vote.nyc.