What Happens When They Get Tough?
Eric Adams, under pressure, lashes out again
My latest Crain’s columns are here.
It is hard to think of a New York City mayor in recent history who was dealt a more favorable political hand than Eric Adams. Unlike Michael Bloomberg, he wasn’t taking over in the direct aftermath of a terrorist attack. Unlike Bill de Blasio, he did not have to manage New York through the worst of Covid. And very much unlike de Blasio, Adams did not encounter a hostile press or government in Albany. Despite his landslide win, de Blasio was confronted with a governor in Andrew Cuomo who was sociopathic in his commitment to undercutting the new mayor. Suburban and upstate Republicans controlled the State Senate. The influential New York Post, the city’s right-wing tabloid, made de Blasio their enemy, pummeling him daily.
Adams, until midway last year, could count the Post as a de facto propaganda rag, and even now, despite his numerous failings, the tabloid hesitates to savage him fully because they still view him as an enemy of the progressive left. Kathy Hochul, Cuomo’s replacement, is deferential to Adams and is perhaps his only prominent Democratic ally in his quest to weaken the criminal justice reforms passed in 2019. The state legislature is controlled by Democrats; even if some are wary of Adams, few are openly oppositional. Harsh words or ad hominem attacks are rare. The City Council has grown restive, but their speaker, Adrienne Adams—no relation to Eric Adams—is a quiet figure, the lowest profile speaker since the position was first established in 1990.
In every sense, Adams has had it easy. And so when politicians do bother to criticize him, it’s worth paying attention.