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It’s Not Just Adams vs. Sliwa: Long-Shot Mayoral Candidates Line Up for November

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Rachel Holliday Smith, THE CITY

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Eric Adams has good reason to take his post-mayoral-primary victory lap. With registered Democrats outnumbering Republicans nearly 7-to-1 in New York City, it’s not unreasonable to think he’ll win the general election over GOP candidate Curtis Sliwa in November.

But their names won’t be the only ones on the ballot.

Half a dozen independent candidates have already secured spots for the general election — and the fate of one potentially important ballot line, from the Working Families Party, is not yet clear.

Ravi Mangla, a WFP spokesperson, told THE CITY Thursdays that “no decision has been made” about who will appear on its line in November. 

The party’s state officers “will be making a decision on the WFP ballot line for the mayoral race in the coming weeks,” he added.

The WFP is one of just four political parties — along with the Democrats, Republicans and the Conservative Party — with guaranteed slots on New York ballots thanks to new vote threshold rules passed by Albany last year.

Following concessions this week from Maya Wiley and Kathryn Garcia, the Democrats have their presumed nominee in Adams. Sliwa, the founder of the Guardian Angels, sealed the Republican slot on June 22, primary night. 

And former police detective Bill Pepitone is running on the Conservative line, having faced no primary challengers.

In the case of the WFP, the party has petitioned to install longtime Make the Road nonprofit leader Deborah Axt as a placeholder for the line. 

But “her fate is to be replaced,” longtime election attorney Sarah Steiner told THE CITY earlier this spring. (In a quirk of election law, Axt will have to be nominated for a judgeship if she’s removed.)

The WFP endorsed Maya Wiley in the mayoral race, but she has no plans to run on that line, her campaign told THE CITY Thursday. She would not accept the ballot line if offered it, said her spokesperson, Eric Koch.

A Crowded Field

Meanwhile, several alternative-party candidates are vying for mayor — including one who already flunked a primary.

Fernando Mateo, who lost the Republican race by roughly 40 percentage points to Sliwa, will appear on the November ballot with the “Save Our City” party, according to the Board of Elections. An inquiry to the Mateo campaign was not returned.

He is not the only one making a run for it with lesser-known parties. 

According to BOE petition records, at least five independent candidates, including Mateo, nabbed a spot on the general election ballot outside of the four ballot-line parties. They did it by gathering at least 3,750 signatures from voters, then submitting them to the BOE before a May 25 deadline.

Dr. Raja Flores, a thoracic surgeon and mesothelioma expert at Mt. Sinai Hospital, is running under the Humanity United Party, BOE records show. He told THE CITY in May he is seeking the top municipal office because he believes neither major party has solved some of the city’s most intractable problems, including the decline of public housing.

“My sense is that both parties are compromised,” he said. “What happened in NYCHA over the past several decades — it just continued to get worse.”

Quanda Francis, a Brooklyn native and owner of the financial-technology firm Sykes Capital Management, successfully petitioned to appear on the ballot in November with the Empowerment Party, according to her campaign and BOE records.

Stacey Prussman, also from Brooklyn, is running as a Libertarian, according to her campaign and BOE petition records. Prussman is a stand-up comedian, radio host and animal rights activist.

Queens public school teacher and socialist organizer Cathy Rojas is also joining the November fray. Rojas launched her run in late June and will appear on the general election ballot with the “Party for Socialism and Liberation,” or PSL, BOE records show. 

At her campaign kick-off event — held at a Harlem church occupied by the activist group the Young Lords in 1969 — Rojas spoke of her goal of a “socialist reorganization of society” to provide food, education, health care and employment for all, according to Liberation, a newspaper of the PSL.

Never Forget

While New York is by and large a Democratic town, mayors have been elected with the backing of other parties in very recent history.

Mike Bloomberg, a one-time Democrat, won the job running as a Repubican with the post-9/11 endorsement of incumbent Rudy Giuliani in 2001. 

Bloomberg then won re-election in 2009 by also running on the now-defunct Independence Party ballot line, after contributing over $1 million to that party. (He later rejoined the Democrats years after leaving office and briefly sought the party’s 2020 presidential nomination.) 

And Giuliani himself won City Hall in 1993 and 1997 with the help of the now-defunct Liberal Party while also running on the Republican line. Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, also ran on the Working Families Party line in his successful bids for mayor.

Despite the relatively large array of contestants in the Nov. 2 general election, it will not feature ranked choice voting like the primary, so there’s little chance of lower-profile candidates collaborating against any of the front runners.

THE CITY is an independent, nonprofit news outlet dedicated to hard-hitting reporting that serves the people of New York.

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