2021 mayoral race

Garcia Is Taking Yang’s Help, But Not Returning It

New York City mayoral candidates Andrew Yang and Kathryn Garcia attend the unveiling of a mural in Chinatown on June 20. Photo: Kena Betancur/Getty Images

New York City mayoral candidates Andrew Yang and Kathryn Garcia campaigned together on Saturday, forming a late alliance in an effort to increase both their chances in the final days of the race against the presumed frontrunner, Eric Adams.

The candidates, who have been co-campaigning across the city over the weekend, did not cross-endorse each other, however. While Yang asked his supporters to rank Garcia as their No. 2 choice behind him, and the campaigns handed out fliers featuring them side-by-side, Garcia said she was not endorsing Yang. She only pointed to how their supporters could vote for both of them if they wanted, but said she would not tell her voters who else to support, and would not reveal how she herself intended to vote.

On Sunday, Garcia called the team-up “highly strategic,” telling a voter on the Upper West Side who asked about the partnership that she “wanted his number twos” and emphasizing again that she “did not endorse” Yang.

On Saturday, Garcia also noted that she wouldn’t be running for mayor if she supported another candidate in the race, and offered to campaign with other rivals to get out the vote.

Early voting, which has been light, ends Sunday, and the citywide primary itself is on Tuesday. By teaming up, Yang and Garcia may be able to bolster secondary support among each other’s voters, as well as block Adams (and the late-rising Maya Wiley) from more of their supporters’ second-choice boxes. Though as political consultant Eric Phillips noted to Politico New York on Friday, that’s all just in theory:

Generally more is more when candidates are piecing together votes from many different places. My sense is that Yang struggles after the first round and Garcia knows she needs to squeeze as many second-place votes from others as she can get. … I can see the logic. On the other hand, I don’t think any of us know what we are talking about at this point.

In other words, while alliances are a standard strategy for candidates in ranked-choice elections, it’s far from clear what kind of impact such a move will or can have in this crowded race, at this late stage, when New York has never had a ranked-choice mayoral primary before. It’s also not clear whether or not the alliance will benefit both candidates equally, particularly since Yang is the only one pushing for votes for the other.

Nonetheless, Garcia and Yang’s team-up quickly drew the ire of other candidates and their allies on Saturday. Adams, who has recently ramped up his attacks on rival candidates — and in particular Garcia — suggested the new alliance had racial motivations. “For them to come together like they are doing in the last three days, they’re saying we can’t trust a person of color to be the mayor of the City of New York when this city is overwhelmingly people of color,” Adams said Saturday, later adding that he meant Black and Latino voters. The Adams camp has also tried to frame the partnership as an attempt at disenfranchisement and voter suppression.

Wiley, meanwhile, said she had turned down an offer to participate in the Garcia/Yang event — though a Garcia campaign spokesperson quickly denied that claim. There was other blowback, as well. New York City public advocate Jumaane Williams, who supports Wiley, said Saturday that he would no longer rank Garcia among any of his five choices on the ballot as a consequence of her allying with Yang.

It was indeed an unlikely pairing. While Yang has repeatedly declared that Garcia would be his second choice on his ballot and made it clear that she would be welcome in his administration, the former sanitation commissioner brushed off Yang’s praise in a New Yorker interview less than two months ago:

“I would like Andrew Yang to stop saying that,” she said, wearily. “I’m not running for No. 2.” Garcia believes that Yang, who has never worked in government, is trying to address questions about his lack of experience by swiping some of hers. “And he’s not the only one, by the way,” she said. “Eric Adams” — the Brooklyn borough president, whom polls have shown in second place in the race — “has straight up told other people, particularly when going for endorsements, ‘Well, I’d make her deputy mayor.’ ” Garcia sat casually in a wrought-iron chair below a patio umbrella, wearing a pink blazer and a necklace that spelled out her first name in gold letters. “It’s totally sexist. Totally sexist,” she said. “It makes it sound like they’re giving me a compliment, but they’re not.” She continued, “Are you not strong enough to actually do this job, without me helping you? You should be strong enough. You shouldn’t need me. To be quite clear: I don’t need you guys, to run this government.”

Garcia has been shown leading Yang in recent polls, though again, both continue to trail Adams, who accused of Garcia of hypocrisy on Saturday for allying with Yang after her earlier comments about him. Garcia insisted Saturday that she still stood by everything she had said across her campaign, and that, “I wouldn’t be in this race if I had a solid number two.”

This post has been updated throughout.

Garcia Is Taking Yang’s Help, But Not Returning It