Possible 2025 challengers emerge as Mayor Adams continues to be dogged by controversies

Mayor Eric Adams.
Photo courtesy of Mayor Eric Adams’ Office

Several names are being tossed around as to who might challenge Mayor Eric Adams in the 2025 Democratic primary — with candidates looking to pounce on the mayor’s weakened position stemming from a series of escalating controversies. 

Some of the top names being floated include state Sens. Jessica Ramos (D-Queens) and Zellnor Myrie (D-Brooklyn), as well as Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso. Ramos appears to be the most widely talked about prospective candidate. She has been a staunch Adams critic, often publicly taking him to task for his handling of the migrant crisis.

All three are being touted as likely candidates at a time when the mayor appears to be politically weakened as his second year in office draws to a close. His poll numbers have taken a major hit, as he received the lowest approval rating of any New York City mayor from Quinnipiac University this week since the institution began surveying Big Apple voters nearly three decades ago.

Some wildcard candidates being discussed include city Comptroller Brad Lander, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, former city Comptroller Scott Stringer and even former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, according to sources and reports.

Queens state Sen. Jessica Ramos.Photo courtesy of New York State Senate

Adams’ negatives, according to the recent poll, are driven by a myriad of controversies. These include a federal investigation into whether the mayor’s 2021 campaign colluded with Turkey to receive illegal donations; unpopular 5% budget cuts he made last month; and a recent sexual assault allegation from 1993 leveled against him. 

Adams has not been accused of any wrongdoing in the federal probe — led by the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York — and strongly denies the sexual assault allegations.

While progressive operatives have been organizing to challenge Adams in recent months, the federal probe into his campaign has made several potential candidates take a more serious look at a City Hall bid, according to progressive activist Janos Marton.

“Ever since the news came out that the FBI is investigating Eric Adams, you’ve seen a shift where people who were probably leaning against running, are at least considering it, and people who were considering it are now much more likely to do it,” Marton told amNewYork Metro. “And that’s a trend that you’ll continue to see as the bad news around Adams and his administration continues to accumulate month after month.”

The Quinnipiac poll is already hastening that trend, Marton said.

“I think everybody is making phone calls to figure out where they stand,” he said. “Even though it may still be too early for people to formally announce, everybody has got to be thinking about it right now.”

Mayor Eric Adams
Mayor Eric Adams.Photo courtesy of Mayor Eric Adams’ Office

Left-leaning Democratic strategist Camille Rivera, a partner at New Deal Strategies, echoed Marton’s sentiments that Adams’ current woes, including his negative polling, provide an opening for potential opponents.

“It’s like a thousand cuts,” Rivera said. “Not just the FBI inquiry, but specific positions [he’s taken], the last budget modifications, the handling of the refugee asylum crisis, all of that is coming to a head. And I think that many folks feel it’s an opportunity for them to move their candidacy forward.”

“Anybody who’s anybody can say to themselves that there could be a real challenge and should be a real challenge to his leadership,” she added.

But first, Rivera said, many people are taking a wait and see approach, looking out for whether or not the mayor gets more directly implicated in the federal probe.

While most eyes are on Ramos, she said she has not yet decided whether or not she will primary the mayor.

“I think New Yorkers are expressing a hunger for an honest debate about how this city is being mismanaged and how our tax dollars are being misspent,” Ramos said, in a statement to amNewYork Metro. “Whether that debate comes from me or another qualified, prepared candidate is too soon to say.”

Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso.Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso

Rivera, whose firm is not yet working with any potential candidates, said she believes both Reynoso and Myrie would be well-positioned to take on Adams.

But Reynoso, in an emailed statement, did not indicate whether or not he plans to run for mayor in 2025, instead saying he’s “singularly focused” on his current role as borough president.

“At a time when everyday Brooklynites are facing big challenges and our city grapples with substantial budget cuts to essential services, I am singularly focused on ensuring that Borough Hall is doing its part to meet the needs of residents and ensure that we come out of this difficult period stronger and more resilient than eve,” Reynoso said.

A Reynoso campaign spokesperson said he is fundraising for his 2025 Borough Hall re-election bid — funds that could easily be utilized for a mayoral run instead.

Myrie could not be reached for comment.

Brooklyn state Senator Zellnor Myrie.Photo courtesy of New York State Senate

Other left-leaning pols whose names have been mentioned include Williams and Lander, both citywide officeholders who will be up for re-election in 2025 as well. Williams has said he is not going to run for mayor in two years and Lander, according to a recent New York Magazine report, has been approached by voters and other elected officials asking him to, but also has not weighed in.

Democratic Strategist Chris Coffey, who worked on 2021 candidate Andrew Yang’s campaign, said he does not think Williams, Lander or Reynoso would give up their offices to run in 2025 if Adams seeks re-election.

“If Eric is on the ballot, do we see Antonio Reynoso giving up his borough president job for another four years to run against the mayor and whoever else is running?” Coffey said. “I guess I just kind of don’t.”

Stringer, who is Lander’s predecessor and ran for mayor in 2021, is also seriously considering a 2025 bid and has been in contact with political consultants about the possibility, according to sources and a New York Daily News report last week. Stringer ran as a progressive in 2021, but his campaign was derailed by accusations of sexual abuse, causing him to finish in 5th place in ranked-choice voting. 

Stringer strongly denies the allegations.

Former city Comptroller Scott Stringer.

Even Cuomo is mulling a bid, after appearing to commission a poll pitting him against possible candidates like Williams and Lander. However, a Cuomo run would only reportedly take place if Adams were forced to step down. If the mayor resigned, there would be a 60-day special election where candidates from any party could vie to fill his vacancy.

Kathryn Garcia, who came second in ranked-choice to Adams in 2021, is also weighing a run — according to a report from Bloomberg.

Those looking to challenge Adams must also consider when to begin fundraising, especially since the mayor already has a $2.5 million war chest as of the last filing period over the summer. However, it is unclear how much money Adams has been bringing in since the FBI probe into his campaign came to light and his longtime fundraising chief, Brianna Suggs, is no longer in that role after her home was raided by federal agents as part of the inquiry.

Adams, for his part, said that anyone thinking of running against him needs to be serious about it even a year and a half ahead of the primary, when asked about the prospective 2025 field on Tuesday.

“If you’re not planning your career, shame on you, but running for mayor and managing a city of this complexity is different from having an idea,” Adams said during his weekly off-topic press conference. “You have to actually be able to execute all the layers of doing so.”

The mayor also waved away the notion that the FBI probe and other controversies have left him politically vulnerable.

“This is the game of politics, and some people are going to politicize this moment, I have to govern this city,” Adams said. “Every mayor [I’ve spoken with tells] us about these moments where a lot of things happen at one time and you have to be focused and disciplined enough to be able to still manage the city.”