The Fading Eric Adams
Does he still matter?
If you have a moment, check out my latest story in New York, a fun and sprawling look at the collision between Jerry Nadler and Carolyn Maloney.
You can read my latest Crain’s columns here.
An Atlantic writer, before deleting his tweet, mused recently about whether Eric Adams, mayor of New York City, would be a formidable presidential candidate. The “anti-woke” Adams could build a working-class coalition and defeat other contenders in an open race. Since Adams’ primary victory more than a year ago, he has been the preoccupation for a certain national set—a Black Democrat willing to get tough with progressives. Here, finally, was the new “face” of the party, the politician who could solve existential challenges for Democrats. Most knew little about Adams, but saw in him a symbol of what politics could be.
Adams, indeed, has a formidable local political coalition that should, with the right amount of politicking, buoy him for years to come. The wealthy elite support him, as do working-class Blacks and Latinos. He is charismatic. He has a compelling life story. He’s lived in the muck of municipal politics enough to understand how, in theory, it needs to be managed.
But Adams, plainly, is not very popular. More troubling, for him at least, is that he’s increasingly irrelevant in a city that does not seem impressed by him anymore. He shows up everywhere and parties hard, but what else? He has committed the energy of his mayoralty to fighting crime, which he cannot single-handedly control. He’s also talked so much about the dangerousness of New York City—by big city standards, the five boroughs are relatively safe, and murders and shootings are now declining—that large swaths of the public are believing him enough to blame him for the perceived disorder. He is still obsessed with weakening the state’s criminal justice laws. His willing partners, at this point, are just Republicans.