New York City

NYC Mayoral Frontrunner Eric Adams Talks Conspiratorial Nonsense About 'Voter Suppression'

The ex-cop's closing pitch is filled with crazy accusations about "disenfranchis[ing] Black voters."

|

The final hours of hard-fought political campaigns are when politicians reveal much about themselves—and about what they think their electorates want to hear.

Then-President Donald Trump, in advance of a 2018 midterm that Republicans rightly feared might cost them their congressional majority, chose not to frame the votes as a referendum on the booming economy but as the "election of the caravan." Kamala Harris decided, in a way that foreshadowed administration policy, that two days before the 2020 election was the opportune time to make the case for "equity" as opposed to "equality."

So it's of particular concern, for both candidate and polity, that in the waning hours before Tuesday's ranked-choice vote New York Democratic mayoral frontrunner Eric Adams has been emphasizing the startling accusation that rivals Andrew Yang and Kathryn Garcia, by cross-promoting each other's candidacies, were engaged in politics resonant of Jim Crow.

"For them to come together like they are doing in the last three days," Adams, who is black, told The New York Times Saturday, "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."

Far from softening those Juneteenth allegations, Adams and his campaign have been sharpening them ever since, releasing an incendiary batch of surrogate conspiracy-mongering ("This is an attempt to bring the disgraceful national campaign of voter suppression to New York," "This is a cynical attempt by Garcia and Yang to disenfranchise Black voters," "[This] could be looked at as voter suppression through the ranked choice lens," etc.) and then digging in his heels during TV interviews Monday morning.

The Garcia/Yang collaboration "feeds into the signals of America," Adams charged on Fox. "We know America's dark past, everything from poll taxes to how we stopped the voting we've seen across the country. Many people felt this was symbolic of that."

Pressed by CNN's John Berman to disavow his surrogates' claims of voter suppression, Adams declined, saying: "I can say this: that African Americans are very clear on voter suppression, they know about a poll tax, we know about the fight that we've had historically, how you had to go through hurdles to vote. So if they feel based on their perception that is suppress-the-vote, than I respect their feelings, and it's not for me to determine their feelings."

Progressive candidate Maya Wiley, who is also black, smacked Adams back: "At a time when this country is seeing real voter suppression laws being enacted," Wiley declared in a statement, "using racism charges to undermine confidence in Ranked Choice Voting is cynical, self-interested and dangerous."

New York is no stranger to brawling ethnic politics (oftentimes literally), from the Irish takeover of Tammany Hall to the deadly Draft Riots of 1863 to the 1991 Crown Heights Riots and beyond. Race is frequently political subtext and often text. The desultory two terms of Mayor Bill de Blasio have been comparatively light on the open-ethnic-warfare front, though the recent apparent spike in anti-Asian violence has generated anxiety, as did conflicts last summer between the New York Police Departmen and Black Lives Matter protesters.

The type of racial politics most exemplified by de Blasio is precisely the style we can expect from Adams, who de Blasio has been reportedly backing in private. That is: disturbingly casual accusations of racism, to be tossed around when the politician is cornered and/or can't get his way.

When New York last Thursday published a critical examination of Adams' murky background and political connections, Adams called it "a despicable racist portrayal of a New Yorker that has fought on the behalf of New Yorkers of all ethnicities."

When reporters—and Andrew Yang—started knocking Adams for maintaining what might be a primary residence in New Jersey, the former cop and current Brooklyn borough president shot back: "You're old enough to remember Obama and Trump, running around saying Obama was not born in America….This is the same thing. This is how people demonize….How dare Andrew Yang say a retired captain, a state senator, a borough president, significant other is an educator, we can't have two homes?…He has two homes. You don't see the hint of racism in that? That I can't have two homes?"

Calling critics and rivals racist may not win earn Adams many accolades in the local press—the headline on today's New York Times coverage is "Adams baselessly insists his rivals are trying to suppress Black people's votes." But he's clearly calculating that it will help him woo sections of the black and Latino electorate who may otherwise lean Wiley. (The two candidates are as diametrically opposed on the signature issue of crime as any pairing in this campaign.)

In that same Times piece, Fordham political science associate professor Christina Greer suggests that there may be an audience for Adams' allegations.

"I don't understand the Adams critique, but he may be critiquing the visual of the Asian and white alliance and asking out loud to voters if this is the dog-whistle coalition we can expect under a Yang or Garcia administration," Greer told the paper, "meaning Blacks and Latinos will be excluded from debates on housing, pay equity and schools….Adams speaks in a frequency that Black people and some working-class white people can hear."

As Eugene Volokh has often noted, behavior that gets rewarded gets repeated. If after making and amplifying conspiratorial accusations about racism, Adams is rewarded with the mayorality of America's largest city, expect New York's always-fraught identity politics to become even more central to political life. What could possibly go wrong?

NEXT: How an Equal Pay Law in Colorado Is Backfiring

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. He called Yang a racist. That was awesomeness. Lefties eating their own.

    1. USA Making money online more than 15$ just by doing simple work from home. I have received $18376 last month. Its an easy and simple job to do and its earnings are much better than regular DS office job and even a little child can do this and earns money. Everybody must try this job by just use the info
      on this page…..VISIT HERE

    2. “I don’t understand the Adams critique, but he may be critiquing the visual of the Asian and white alliance and asking out loud to voters if this is the dog-whistle coalition we can expect under a Yang or Garcia administration,” Greer told the paper, “meaning Blacks and Latinos will be excluded from debates on housing, pay equity and schools[.]”

      “I also don’t understand where the surname ‘Garcia’ comes from since I think that she’s going to for some reason be exclusionary towards Latinos,” Greer continued. “In fact, I’m a complete idiot, and people should probably ignore anything else that comes out of my word hole,” she finished.

  2. “The ex-cop’s closing pitch is filled with crazy accusations about “disenfranchis[ing] Black voters.”

    So was an advertisement I saw for shoes during a recent baseball game. If crazy accusations about disenfranchising black voters sells shoes, he should absolutely use it to sell voters. And his target audience isn’t just black voters. The shoe company was presumably selling those shoes to more than just black consumers, too.

    Did you ever watch Game of Thrones? It was a big hit. It was full of evil undead, magic, dragons, and face changing assassins getting revenge. People love that shit. They’ll pay to watch it. Don’t be surprised if stories about evil and magic can sell the voters, too. Plenty of people will believe whatever you want–so long as you tell them you’re against racism.

    1. You know, I came here to say something similar. And while I agree that almost all of the modern “disenfranchising black voters” is a conspiracy that lives in the head of your NPR commentator, it’s mainstream as hell. Didn’t the MLB move its All Star game to another state over this conspiracy theory?

      1. “Didn’t the MLB move its All Star game to another state over this conspiracy theory?”

        That is different because shut up.

        1. It’s okay when we do it.

  3. The cop or “ex-cop”, true to his nature, only thinks about who he can next hit with his club and how he can he get away with or, even, get rewarded for it. Racism, even if he calls it anti-racism, hands him both easy victims and a politically powerful way to get rewarded for victimizing them.

    “Very nearly everything the state does is either vicious or foolish, which is why the state so often appears as a cudgel wielded by clowns.” ~ Aaron Ross Powell

  4. This dipshit just saw one of his campaign workers get shanked in the lung with an icepick. The dude really needs to be focusing on something other than whinging about voter suppression.

    It’s also been hilarious how he and Wiley have been playing the “blacker than you” game with each other. NEW YORK CITY is going to become even more of an open sewer than it already is with one of those two clowns in charge, and it couldn’t happen to a more appropriate city. All the dummies pining for the good old days of “gritty New York” will hopefully get the full measure of suffering that they so richly deserve.

  5. Don’t Democrats pretty much literally always throw around accusations of racism?

    Mitt Romney was literally going to put black people back in chains.

    1. Binders… Binders full of women…

    2. And Trump was falsely accused of calling neo-Nazis very fine people (which he did not).

      A lie that Matt Welch just went on C-Span and defended, by the way. Which should tell you exactly how much you should trust any of his takes on the issues (hint: not at all).

  6. Reason may think it’s nonsense, but the left sees voter suppression as an article of faith that is immune to any and all facts. Why would anyone be surprised that a mayoral candidate in NYC would repeat the same ole shit. The entire DNC/media establishment has been banging this drum forever, with the shouting intensified as states look to tighten up voting procedures.

    No less that WaPo said all the pearl-clutching about GA’s law was unfounded. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/03/30/biden-falsely-claims-new-georgia-law-ends-voting-hours-early/

    1. He was confused by a statement from his nurse about how late he was allowed to have pudding.

  7. True that losers have yelped about vote fraud since colonial times, but what alternatives does a lying looter have? Shrillary couldn’t bring herself to admit that Libertarian spoiler votes far outweighed the differences between ballots from her dupes and the other half of the Kleptocracy–much less that people wanted electrig power to remain safe and legal! Just so Trumpistas will die before admitting the women voters they tried to coerce with Comstock-law involuntary labor trounced their asses as in Romania, Ireland and Argentina.

    1. Damn them womyn voters Hank!

    2. “coerce with Comstock-law involuntary labor”

      He posted it! Hurray!!!

  8. Can we hurry up and get to the “Have you no decency?!?” part of this?

  9. It’s at least encouraging that you now have to crank the charges of racism up to 11 in order to get any traction with that sort of shit.

  10. ““The ex-cop’s closing pitch is filled with crazy accusations about “disenfranchis[ing] Black voters.”

    He’s not wrong. They’re definitely going to disenfranchise black voters… and voters of Greek, Jewish, Filipino, Scottish, Chinese and Italian descent too. Going forward every major mayoral election in the US will be as Free & Fair as the presidential one.

  11. So when there’s accusations of voter suppression in New York City, it’s conspiratorial nonsense. Accusations of voter suppression Georgia are a threat to democracy.

    1. Accusations of electoral fraud because of a $150k worth of Russian Facebook ads however, were totes legitimate and demanded 53 investigations, a special counsel, 4 years of “anonymous” sources and constant shrieking.

      1. $500BB spent by the Zuck was just fortifying democracy.

    2. Yes, Welch can GFH

  12. “The ex-cop’s closing pitch is filled with crazy accusations about “disenfranchis[ing] Black voters.”

    Just like every Democrat politician and news outlet in the country. What else is new?

  13. This article misses the point.

    Adams knows his complaint is bullshit.
    But what he’s trying to do is get voters to notice that Garcia is not Hispanic. She is divorced from a Garcia and kept the name, probably for political purposes.

    And with Yang, Adams is trying to evoke the racist trope that blacks have against Asian shop owners in the city, that they’re always acting shifty, treating blacks like thieves.

    Adams is a criminal, lying about living in the city, collecting multiple nyc paychecks. Hopefully people see through his crap.

    1. There’s more to it than that I think. Welch only touched on it briefly, but Adams has probably the toughest anti crime rhetoric among the candidates. This is something that enrages BLM activists but appeals to the majority of poor but law abiding black and brown voters who suffer the most from unchecked crime in their communities. The racism accusations might be way to shore up his POC credentials.

  14. Nothing new in the world of Democratic Party politics. When the replacement for Kwame Kilpatrick was being chosen the race politics went to the gutter. One of the candidates, Freman Hendrix, was attacked for not being “black enough” to be mayor of Detroit (white mother). This attack even came from the black churches in Detroit. He came in 3rd during the primary and I don’t think the attacks held any genuine sway but the fact that it even went there shows the sorry state of the Democratic Party.

  15. So, it’s a totally standard Democratic campaign, no different from any other?

    It’s become an article of faith among Democrats that Republicans are “suppressing” the black vote. Faith, as in no amount of evidence will get them to admit it isn’t true.

    You think it’s bad now? This time next year they’ll be raving about attack dogs and fire hoses, and anybody who contradicts them will get banned from social media.

  16. “So if they feel based on their perception that is suppress-the-vote, than I respect their feelings, and it’s not for me to determine their feelings.”

    Feelings to the power of 3, no less. No evidence required, just feelings.

  17. In Boston, every time Curley was up against it, he called out Irish voters to save him. Different dog, same trick.

  18. Adams will be nothing but trouble. He was a Captain cop, I’ll bet an “affirmative Action” promotion. Take the word racism out of his lexicon and he’d be at a loss for words.
    And this is worth a laugh, “.the visual of the Asian and white alliance..” So, Garcia is white? Well she looks the part. But hey, she married out of her race. I mean, Obama is half white but you don’t hear anyone calling him a white supremacist. And the alliance creates voter suppression. People who would gin that up are too dumb to vote. And Adams is to racist to be elected, esp as they line him up with the race-driven incompetent DeBlasio. We can probably thank his black lesbian wife for that, chirping at his back like Obama and Obiden.

  19. Adams will be nothing but trouble. He was a Captain cop, I’ll bet an “affirmative Action” promotion. Take the word racism out of his lexicon and he’d be at a loss for words.
    And this is worth a laugh, “.the visual of the Asian and white alliance..” So, Garcia is white? Well she looks the part. But hey, she married out of her race. I mean, Obama is half white but you don’t hear anyone calling him a white supremacist. And the alliance creates voter suppression. People who would gin that up are too dumb to vote. And Adams is to racist to be elected, esp as they line him up with the race-driven incompetent DeBlasio. We can probably thank his black lesbian wife for that, chirping at his back like Obama and Obiden.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.