Women shoot to top of New York mayor’s race

Should either of the women pull it off, they’ll almost certainly become mayor of New York, where the Democrats have a 7-to-1 advantage in voter registration and the Republicans haven’t put up a credible candidate.

The upturn for Garcia and Wiley comes as women embraced a strategic shift in their campaign that has worked well in recent New York legislatures but hasn’t made it to the top – either in town or in Albany.

“What we are seeing in New York in an ongoing and really exciting way is a shift in our understanding of leadership,” said Alexis Grenell, a city-based Democratic political scientist and columnist for The Nation who has written about gender and power for almost one Decade.

“Collaboration, coordination, working with people – they are coded as feminine qualities for which voters reward women by electing them to legislative bodies rather than executive offices. Of course, that’s just good leadership, period. “

Despite its liberal reputation, the country’s largest metropolis is years behind other major cities such as Chicago, Houston, Seattle, Atlanta and Phoenix that have women business leaders. Women are also not represented on the New York City Council: 14 of the 51 members are women, among others Decrease from a high of 18 in 2009. A organized effort seeks to increase the number of women elected to the council this year.

“Perhaps the answer is not quite as liberal as we imagine it to be,” said Ruth Messinger, who was the first Democratic candidate for mayor in 1997 but lost the parliamentary elections to incumbent Rudy Giuliani.

The 2021 mayor race is like no other in the city, and some factors speak in favor of female candidates: One is the demise of the city’s district-based party systems, which have historically been male-dominated. The other is the ranking selection and a much more generous public matching system.

“You get a lot of women who are more viable,” said Ester Fuchs, a veteran of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration and director of the Urban and Social Policy Program at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. “I think this is the first time so many viable female candidates are running.”

Among the 100 largest cities in the country, 32 have female mayors, so Data from Rutgers University’s Center for American Women in Politics.

The historical influence of the party machines, arduous fundraising and electoral qualification requirements, and the harsh nature of the city’s politics are some of the obstacles that have held women back.

“To be successful in New York City – there are songs that have been written about it – you have to be ambitious, aggressive, tenacious and combative,” said Christine Quinn, the former councilor spokeswoman who ran for mayor in 2013 without success. “All the qualities that a woman, when she has them, is considered a slut. If a man has them, he is considered Chuck Schumer and is incredibly successful. “

Quinn has long been considered the front runner in the 2013 Democratic primary, but ended up in third place behind current Mayor Bill de Blasio and another male candidate. A number of factors contributed to her loss: her support for the extension of the tenure of then-Mayor Bloomberg, a well-funded group of anti-carriage opponents who set out to torpedo their campaign, and the late entry into the race and the subsequent collapse of Anthony Weiner in a sexting scandal.

But Quinn, the first woman and first openly gay council spokesperson, says her campaign made a critical mistake that contributed to the defeat: trying to tone down her image to make it more palatable to voters.

“The decision was made… that I should try to tone it down, soften it up, be less feminine and less LGBT. Big mistake, ”she said. “Because I ended up being on my mind trying to walk that incredibly thin line, I ended up looking inauthentic. And there is nothing voters hate more than to be inauthentic. “

“I regret not having my first commercial: ‘I’m Chris Quinn and I’m pushy, obnoxious, loud and do a lot of things.”

“Get s — done” is one of Garcia’s campaign slogans.

Prior to Garcia’s recent rise, Yang, a former presidential candidate and freshman in city politics, said repeatedly that he would like to hire her to run City Hall – an idea Garcia had condemned as sexist.

“Are you not strong enough to actually do this job without me helping you? You should be strong enough. You shouldn’t need me, ”Garcia said in an interview with The New Yorker. “To be very clear: I don’t need you to run this government.”

Councilor Helen Rosenthal, who supports the Wiley campaign, said Yang’s mood was not surprising.

“Who thinks like that? And the answer is a lot of men, ”she said. “There are a lot of people who think like Andrew Yang. I think that explains why women are so hard to vote for. “

Wiley also campaigned for what she sees as sexism. As a former chairman of the Civilian Complaint Review Board, she has argued with Adams, a former NYPD police officer, over statements that stopping and rummaging is appropriate police tactic in certain circumstances. On Wednesday he has said his critics on the subject should “be quiet”.

“I’m used to men telling me to shut up,” Wiley shot back. “And I don’t if they do.”

While New York lags behind other cities when it comes to sending a woman to City Hall, it’s not alone: ​​Big cities like Los Angeles and Philadelphia have never had a female mayor. Boston installed its first female mayor when Kim was Janey officially sworn in in March after Marty Walsh left to become President Joe Biden’s Secretary of Labor.

According to Data released According to the Center for American Women and Politics, 30.5 percent of community officials across the country are women this spring. Researchers say the number of their representation is roughly the same at other levels, refuting the myth that women do better at the local level.

New York State 31st out of 50 states, with 28.6 percent of municipal offices held by women.

“We found that it is more difficult for women to break into where the gatekeepers are strongest – the gatekeepers are political parties, party leaderships and gatekeepers can also be unions,” said the center’s director Debbie Walsh. “That is very much the case in New York City.”

Messinger, who ran against Giuliani, noticed a pattern when addressing New Yorkers, who were often political donors: They gave their money, but in smaller amounts than male candidates. A more generous public matching program in this election, in which smaller, local donations are made with an 8-to-1 match, counteracted this effect, said Fuchs.

Messenger’s poll found that voters in some communities were satisfied with women in legislature but not in leadership positions. Her campaign set up a small focus group to get voters’ impressions of her.

“The first man to speak said, ‘Well, I can tell you one thing: I wouldn’t want to go out with her,” “Messinger said.

Almost a quarter of a century later, the barrier that Messinger tried to break is still intact. “If you’d asked me back then, would New York be ready for mayor in the next 20 years, I would have said yes,” she said.

Voting with leaderboards can help end the streak. With the ability to classify multiple candidates, voters can bring a variety of priorities into the voting booth rather than picking a single candidate. That means the final winner may not get the most first-choice votes.

“It’s about eliminating the spoiler effect,” said Grenell. “You can have multiple people from a discrete demographic run without wiping each other out.”

While they ran primarily because of their experience and political positions, the leading female candidates this year highlighted their history-writing potential. Garcias first campaign ad is titled “Break Glass” and shows how she throws herself out of a glass box (after putting on protective goggles).

Wiley won chapter support for the National Organization for Women’s New York City on Sunday. “After 109 consecutive male mayors for over 356 years, it is time for a woman to take over. Let’s make history, ”said Sonia Ossorio, the organization’s executive director.

Although they are the majority of the city’s eligible voters, Women never voted as a bloc, but split up along racial or ideological lines, like male voters.

“Women as a group are not grassroots,” said Fuchs, who also called a voter information site. operates whosontheballot.org. “I would argue that women do not see themselves as a bloc in the Democratic primary in New York City.”

Unlike on the national stage, there is not much daylight among Democrats on issues such as abortion law and equal pay that could unite women.

“The politics of New York City is very fragmented, no group – no matter how you define them – dominates. You need a coalition, ”added Fuchs. “Even if you’re walking on a platform, it’s time for a woman, you still have to attract some men.”

Ossorio from NOW somewhat disagreed with this opinion.

“Women, it’s time to go out and vote,” said Ossorio. “That choice is ours.”

David Giambusso and Amanda Eisenberg contributed to this report.

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