Democratic mayoral nominee Eric Adams downplayed his recent criticism of the party’s left-wing and said it would not be a hindrance to working with members of New York City’s congressional delegation during a meeting with the group Wednesday in Washington, D.C.
“After election day, we’re no longer campaigning — we’re governing,” Adams told reporters after the meeting. “I’m in the campaign season. I need to show the differences on philosophy between those whom I’m running against, and then January 1 when I’m governing it’s all about making sure everyone’s at the table.”
Adams, a former police officer, won a close primary in June largely on a message of increased public safety. He faces Republican Curtis Sliwa in November, though is expected to win due to Democrats’ overwhelming registration advantage in the city.
Adams traveled to the headquarters of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in Washington at the behest of Rep. Jerry Nadler for a morning meeting with New York Democrats, including Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.
His comments Wednesday came after the New York Post reported this week that Adams attended a fundraiser hosted by Republicans and said he was “running against a movement” — referring specifically to the Democratic Socialists of America.
“I’m no longer running against candidates. I’m running against a movement. All across the country, the DSA socialists are mobilizing to stop Eric Adams,” the Brooklyn borough president reportedly said.
Adams has not been shy in denouncing parts of the progressive agenda that he believes are unpopular and wrong-headed — notably the effort to defund police and end the use of jails amid a crime surge in New York City and nationwide. Adams has also made entreaties to the city’s upper crust, a stark departure from Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose political rhetoric was much more antagonistic to the wealthiest New Yorkers.
But he and other meeting-goers presented a united front as the city attempts to claw its way out of its Covid-era doldrums.
Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), who unseated longtime Rep. Eliot Engel last year, running on an unabashedly left platform, said it was a “good first meeting” with the Democratic nominee. He said the focus was on their shared concern for the city’s most vulnerable, rather than on intra-party differences among the diverse group of Democrats.
Ocasio-Cortez, who is seen as a standard bearer for the democratic socialists, did not take questions.
Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.), said Adams’ message was “universally well received” by other members and the candidate was honest about the need for support in Washington.
“We’re all professionals and we’re all keeping our eyes on the endgame which is securing resources for New York City,” said Torres, one of Andrew Yang’s highest-profile supporters during the mayoral primary. “Everything else is secondary; everything else is background noise.”
During the meeting Adams shared a story about how the passing of his mother led him to reconnect with his sister and solidify that relationship, according to Rep. Gregory Meeks.
“He said he wants to start from ground zero and all work together for the benefit of the city of New York,” Meeks (D-N.Y.) said. “He said his success is dependent upon our success and working together in that regard.”
In a statement following the meeting, Adams said, “We discussed issues like combating gun violence with greater community funding and stronger law enforcement coordination, doubling Federal investment in NYCHA and expanding affordable housing subsidy eligibility, providing quality child care and early childhood education for every family, and fighting climate change while employing New Yorkers with good green jobs.”
Several attendees said other policy areas included repealing the cap on the state and local tax deduction and the need for FEMA reimbursments for Covid-related expenses incurred by the city’s public hospitals.
Rep. Sean Maloney (D-N.Y.), who like Adams is considered more of a centrist, indicated the Brooklyn borough president’s success in June could be translated to other Democrats who are facing a crucial midterm election next year.
“Eric Adams has demonstrated he is a tremendous vote-getter and a terrific asset to the Democratic Party. Politically, Eric Adams is a rock on which I can build the church,” Maloney told reporters.
De Blasio famously tried, and failed, to build a national platform for himself and like-minded candidates. Adams himself has recently said he should be a model for Democrats nationally.
“He’s gonna be a busy man, but I’ll take any time he’s got,” Maloney said of Adams.
Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, the sole Republican in the city’s congressional delegation, was not invited to the meeting.