City Council Speaker Johnson suddenly withdraws from 2021 mayoral race

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City Council Speaker Corey Johnson (Photo by Todd Maisel)

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson had been expected to be among the key contenders in the 2021 mayoral race, but he abruptly announced Thursday that he won’t be running after all.

The lawmaker said the COVID-19 pandemic forced him to re-evaluate how best to serve the city. He also said he had recently been struggling with depression.

“This challenging time has led me to rethink how I can best be of service to the city, and I have come to the conclusion that this is not the right path for me,” Johnson said of the mayoral race. “I thank everyone who supported my campaign for this most important job. … I know that there are plenty of good candidates in the race, and I wish them well.”

Six months ago, Johnson said he would explore a run at Gracie Mansion in 2021; the two-term lawmaker, who has been City Council speaker since 2018, is term-limited from continuing on in Manhattan’s 3rd City Council District seat beyond 2021.

The 38-year-old openly gay lawmaker, who is HIV-positive and has battled alcoholism, said he made the decision to come forward about his depression “because I know from experience the value of speaking honestly about one’s struggles.”

“I’ve been open about my sobriety, which along with my partner and mother, has been instrumental to me during this difficult time, and my HIV status. I believe it’s important to be open about this as well,” Johnson said. “Too often mental health issues are shrouded in secrecy and stigmas, which causes people struggling with these issues to feel alone. I encourage anyone who is experiencing a mental health condition to seek help. I did and I am better for it.”

Johnson said he will continue on as speaker to the end of his term, and that his withdrawal from the mayoral race does not mark “the end of my public life.” He said he remains committed to “working to improve the lives of New Yorkers” and help the city bounce back from the pandemic.

Among the already-declared Democratic candidates in the 2021 mayoral race are City Comptroller Scott Stringer; retired Brigadier General Loree Sutton, former NYC veterans services commissioner; former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan; and former Civilian Complaint Review Board Chairwoman Maya Wiley. 

Others rumored to be eyeing a run at Gracie Mansion include Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, retired Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and entrepreneur/former 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang.

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