“That opening has become wider and wider,” Ana María Archila, co-director of the New York Working Families Party, said in an interview. “Back in early October, our thought was: This is still an incumbent, strong, popular enough. But the last several weeks have shown that this mayor is not only not strong and not popular, but he might not be the mayor for his whole term.”
The Quinnipiac University poll this week showed Adams’ job approval rating at an historically abysmal 28 percent following revelations of a federal investigation into whether Adams’ campaign colluded with foreign interests. Adams has not been charged in the probe.
The mayor finds himself weakened at a time when the left-leaning Working Families Party is reorganizing under new leaders Archila and Jasmine Gripper.
And any challenge from the left would seek to undermine a mayor who dubbed himself the new “face of the Democratic Party” upon winning election in 2021 — a dig at the progressive movement that never supported him but couldn’t figure out how to blunt his ascent. Adams said last February, “The numerical minority, they have hijacked the term progressive.”
The Quinnipiac University survey released Wednesday also revealed that an overwhelming majority of city voters — more than eight in 10 — are worried about the budget cuts that Adams proposed to the NYPD, public libraries, city-funded pre-kindergarten and other municipal services to offset the cost of supporting migrants.
And affordable housing, according to the poll, is a top concern on par with crime.
While Adams, a former NYPD captain, has sought to prioritize crime-fighting during his tenure, left-leaning critics like City Council member Tiffany Cabán have condemned him over rising costs in the expensive city.
“One thing that is very clear is that the mayor is living in the conditions that he created,” Gripper of the Working Families Party said in an interview. “He promoted a narrative of high crime when the numbers didn’t show it. And now, he’s trying to convince New Yorkers that crime is low, and they don’t believe him, because he created a narrative that promoted so much fear.”
Indeed, City Hall cited those statistics as it questioned the validity of the numbers by the well-regarded Quinnipiac polling institution.
“Incorrect polls come out every day, but the real numbers cannot be questioned: Crime is down, jobs are up and we continue to deliver billions of dollars into the pockets of working people,” Deputy Mayor Fabien Levy said in a statement.
Adams, in Washington on Thursday to urge more federal aid for the migrant crisis, pointed the finger at President Joe Biden’s administration. Adams and Biden’s once warm relationship is now in a deep freeze as the mayor maintains the White House has left the city to handle the migrant surge on its own.
“It’s clear that you can just see the poll numbers,” Adams told reporters at the Capitol. “Our national government has taken a toll on New York City. New Yorkers are angry. I’ve joined that anger.”
The mayor’s representatives blasted a press release Thursday with 11 supportive statements from politicians, union and business leaders and the president of the NAACP’s New York State Conference.
“As our economy continues to rebuild and jobs are restored, Mayor Adams is the blue-collar champion our union members and working families across New York City elected him to be,” Rich Maroko, president of the Hotel and Gaming Trades Council, said in a statement.
But Adams’ liberal critics want the blame for reduced city services pinned squarely on him as they coalesce to take him on.
“This is the moment for us to begin to hone in on our message, get really tight on our message,” City Council member Carmen De La Rosa said in an interview. “And I think that message is that these cuts are not only, in our opinion, going to be devastating [but] it’s also unnecessary to so deeply cut public education in New York City.”
The council’s Progressive Caucus — long a target of Adams’ ire — has scheduled an oversight hearing Monday that will challenge his approach to municipal services. City Council member Shahana Hanif said she plans to show exactly where and how the funding can be restored.
The renewed pressure from the left comes with an acknowledgment that the movement — which was ascendent with the election of former Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2013 and again in 2018 with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s surprise victory — has lost its way.
In 2021, the establishment left was divided among three mayoral candidates, diluting its power and helping Adams clinch victory with his working-class, multi-racial support.
Progressives now say they’ve learned their lesson from that race.
“We saw the left was very splintered and disorganized, and the Working Families Party will not allow that scenario to repeat itself,” Gripper said.
While the Working Families Party focuses on the 2024 House elections, the much smaller Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club has been recruiting for a 2025 challenger to Adams — an effort that its leader said has recently intensified.
“We’re talking to more people,” progressive activist Allen Roskoff said, “people that really weren’t considering running before.”
He floated former City Comptroller Scott Stringer and Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso as potential candidates.
Left-leaning strategist Camille Rivera said ensuring a truly united front needs to be the first step in confronting Adams.
“You’re going to see a galvanizing of organizations, community groups, the party pushing back on the mayor,” she said, adding that the ideal candidate would know “it’s never a choice between cutting public schools and housing the homeless.”