Stringer's support crumbles as assault allegations scramble New York mayor’s race

Scott Stringer, New York Comptroller and Democratic Mayoral candidate, speaks during a press conference. | Mark Lennihan / AP Photo

Mayoral candidate Scott Stringer’s campaign continued to lose marquee supporters Friday after sexually assaulting a campaign volunteer 20 years ago – but the longtime Democratic politician vowed to stay in the race.

Two days after the city-based lobbyist Jean Kim made allegations that Stringer fumbled her in a taxi – an account he vehemently denied – progressive supporters, some of whom had flanked him from the start of his campaign, left. path.

The Working Families Party, which put Stringer first in its three-way advocacy, tore its support on Friday afternoon in a statement linking the city manager to a “culture of sexual harassment” ubiquitous in New York politics . The news was first reported by POLITICO.

“Jean Kim shared her experience of sexual assault and Scott Stringer did not acknowledge or consider his responsibility for this damage,” the group said in a statement, adding that it would throw its support behind the candidates they had previously in second and third place – Dianne Morales and Maya Wiley.

Then a group of lawmakers whose support Stringer had built his campaign on announced that they could no longer stand with him either.

In a one-sentence statement released on Friday evening, Stringer lost the support of State Sens. Alessandra Biaggi, Gustavo Rivera and Julia Salazar, Congregation members Yuh-Line Niou and Catalina Cruz, and MP Jamaal Bowman.

“We are withdrawing our approval of Scott Stringer’s mayoral campaign,” wrote the legislature. They followed Senator Jessica Ramos, an avid Stringer supporter, who told POLITICO in an emotional interview Wednesday night that she was concerned that his weakened candidacy would encourage Andrew Yang’s candidacy.

Sunrise Movement NYC, an environmental group, also got their approval the day after the shutdown of a PAC it set up to promote the Stringer campaign.

Just before the Friday news went public, Stringer issued a statement pointing out the loss of support and a promise to move on.

“I understand this is a difficult moment for my supporters and I know that some of them will feel compelled to withdraw their approval of my candidacy,” he said. “This campaign has always been about the people. I’ve had a lot of campaign stop support over the past two days, and I will be campaigning in every neighborhood and district for the next two months.”

“I look forward to seeing my opponents in the campaign and debates,” he added.

Some supporters stay by his side while his team continues to insist that Kim make up their story – a claim they wanted to bolster by poking holes in their account. Stringer has said she was a peer and a volunteer campaign worker for his 2001 public advocacy race, not an intern as she originally said. They pointed out that she donated to his campaigns after the alleged attack. And they made copies of petitions for Yang, which she distributed – petitions Kim carried for another candidate that appeared on Yang-crowned ballots.

“I’m not interested in pushing anyone into the mayor’s office. My goal is to tell the truth and hold Stringer accountable for his actions,” Kim said in a statement from her lawyer Patricia Pastor not surprised by his efforts to discredit me. That is exactly what I expected of him. Lie, attack and return the favor. “

Congregation member Linda Rosenthal and Alderman Mark Levine, both Manhattan Democrats, failed to get their approval, and several Stringer supporters predicted he would continue to be popular at his base on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Neither Rosenthal nor Levine responded to requests for comment on Friday.

The United Federation of Teachers and Rep. Jerry Nadler, a mentor to Stringer, have also not yet lifted their support – further evidence that his longtime allies stand by his side as his newer coalition splinters.

The Working Families Party was a boon to Stringer’s credibility among young, racially diverse progressives, whom he viewed as crucial to winning the June 22 primary. Support as a 60-year-old white male career politician – before Morales and Wiley, both women in color – showed his political skill.

As party officials and lawmakers debated how to deal with the allegations for the past two days, several people involved in the talks said they were worried by his efforts to discredit Kim.

“The way they handled it had a huge impact on people’s reaction,” said one person familiar with the legislature’s decision. “You can’t just attack. You can’t do that. … Perhaps in 100 years we will have reached the point where there is no longer any need to guess [of guilt.] But we’re not there yet for good reason. “

The Working Families Party concluded on Friday during a Zoom appeal among its officials. There was largely agreement on what action to take, but some debate over whether to do that this week or wait and see how the story unfolds, according to a person familiar with the talks.

“People were disappointed with the way he reacted,” said another person.

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