Scott Stringer’s mayoral campaign appears to be in free fall after a woman accused him of sexual assault and harassment last week, with his biggest backers rescinding their endorsements over the weekend.
Stringer, the self-styled progressive hope in the race, laid the foundation of his campaign on the support of left-leaning Democratic lawmakers and major progressive groups. Now many of those supporters say they no longer back the comptroller in his quest for City Hall. On Friday evening, Stringer lost the Working Families Party; Representative Jamaal Bowman; State Senators Alessandra Biaggi, Julia Salazar, and Gustavo Rivera; Assemblymembers Yuh-Line Niou and Catalina Cruz.
Congressman Adriano Espaillat, State Senator José Serrano, Assemblymember Carmen De La Rosa and City Council Members Mark Levine and Diana Ayala also revoked their support Saturday.
The avalanche began after Jean Kim on Wednesday said Stringer had sexually assaulted and harassed her when she worked on his 2001 campaign for public advocate. Kim alleged that Stringer had groped and kissed her without her consent. Stringer strongly denied the allegation, saying at a press conference beside his wife that Kim was a peer who didn’t directly work for him and that they had once had a consensual relationship.
The Working Families Party issued a statement late on Friday afternoon explaining its decision: “For years, New York’s politics have been dominated by a culture of sexual harassment. We are deeply committed to building a city and a state where all New Yorkers are safe from sexual misconduct and survivors are supported in speaking out. We approached this moment with the deliberate reflection, discussion, and input from members and leaders across the party that it required. Jean Kim shared her experience of sexual assault, and Scott Stringer failed to acknowledge and consider his responsibility for that harm.”
The statement from the lawmakers Stringer supported early in their own runs was more blunt: “We are rescinding our endorsement of Scott Stringer’s mayoral campaign.”
State Senators Jabari Brisport and Jessica Ramos were the first lawmakers to back away from Stringer on Thursday, citing Kim’s allegations. UFCW Local 1500, which represents more than 20,000 grocery workers across New York, withdrew its support the same day, citing the sexual-misconduct allegations, as Politico previously reported. Sunrise Movement NYC, a climate advocacy group, also rescinded its endorsement, and called for Stringer to drop out of the race entirely.
Kim’s bombshell exploded at the precise moment Stringer began to gain critical endorsements and some momentum in his quest to break out of third place behind Andrew Yang and Eric Adams, with little more than two months until the June 7 primary. Stringer’s campaign moved to discredit Kim, as Politico reported, bringing up that after she says she was assaulted, that she donated to his campaigns and offered to work again to elect him — and suggested she collected petitions for Yang, which she denied.
For now, Stringer retains his biggest supporter: The United Federation of Teachers, which said Thursday in a press release: “The UFT has a long history of working with Scott Stringer and has always found him both supportive of educators and an advocate for women. At the same time, any accusations of this nature need to be listened to and carefully weighed.”
Stringer preempted Friday’s bloodletting with a statement of his own, saying he intends to fight on. “I understand that this is a difficult moment for my supporters, and I know that some of them will feel compelled to withdraw their endorsement of my candidacy,” he said in a statement. “This campaign was always going to be about the people. I’ve received a lot of support on campaign stops over the last two days, and I’m going to be campaigning in every neighborhood, in every borough for the next two months. I look forward to seeing my opponents on the campaign trail and at the debates.”
If voters follow Stringer’s endorsers and back away, the immediate question for the mayoral race is which candidate would pick them up. WFP, in rescinding its Stringer endorsement, reiterated its previous support for two other mayoral candidates, Dianne Morales and Maya Wiley. They had both already called for Stringer to bow out of the race, as did Kathryn Garcia and Shaun Donovan. All four of them, and Ray McGuire, have been stuck far behind Stringer in polls.
Stringer told New York in April that the mayoral race would be decided late, betting on his record as a campaign closer and predicting “you will see a candidate plummet.”