The race for New York City mayor took an extraordinary turn on Wednesday as the leading candidate, Eric Adams, gave reporters a tour of a Brooklyn apartment he owns, while rival campaigns questioned his residency and fitness for office.
A day after a Politico New York story raised questions and highlighted apparent discrepancies regarding where Mr. Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, resides when he is not sleeping in Brooklyn Borough Hall — he owns properties in Brooklyn and Fort Lee, N.J., the report noted — Mr. Adams held an emotional news conference outside a residence in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, joined by his son, Jordan.
“How foolish would someone have to be to run to be the mayor of the city of New York and live in another municipality,” Mr. Adams said.
He led a tour of a wood- and brick-trimmed apartment, showing off what he referred to as a “small, modest kitchen” and “small, modest bathroom” while reporters inspected the refrigerator and a sneaker collection.
The highly unusual event unfolded as the race entered a tumultuous, increasingly rancorous final stretch, less than two weeks before the June 22 Democratic primary that is almost certain to determine the city’s next mayor. Mr. Adams, a former police captain, has topped a number of recent polls as he presses a message focused on public safety, but the race appears fluid even in the final days.
A Spectrum News NY1/Ipsos poll released earlier this week showed Mr. Adams leading the Democratic field, followed by Andrew Yang, the former presidential candidate, and Kathryn Garcia, the former sanitation commissioner.
But the poll was conducted in the second half of May, and there has been little data since to capture how a number of major recent developments are registering with voters, including Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Saturday endorsement of Maya D. Wiley, a former counsel to Mayor Bill de Blasio. Jumaane D. Williams, the New York City public advocate, endorsed Ms. Wiley on Wednesday.
Questions about how Mr. Adams spends his time when not on the campaign trail injected a new element of uncertainty into the race and offered fresh fodder for his opponents. Early voting begins on Saturday.
“Eric Adams has a problematic record of not being fully honest or transparent with the voters of New York,” Ms. Garcia said in a statement on Wednesday. “As we recover from Covid, the last thing we need is a career politician with a hidden agenda at City Hall. Our city cannot recover if the mayor lacks integrity.”
Scott M. Stringer, the city comptroller, called on Mr. Adams to release records related to his residency.
And in a rare display of cross-campaign comity, Mr. Yang’s co-campaign managers released a list of questions for Mr. Adams on Wednesday that, they noted, was intended to add to questions raised by Ms. Wiley’s team the day before.
“Why would anyone vote for a candidate who can’t even be honest about where he lives?” asked Sasha Ahuja and Chris Coffey, Mr. Yang’s campaign managers, as they detailed a list of ethics concerns. “How are the traffic problems in Fort Lee? What are you hiding?”
A day earlier, Ms. Wiley’s campaign manager, Maya Rupert, had asked, “WTF?!?! Does Eric Adams live in New Jersey?”
A crowd of journalists gathered outside Mr. Adams’s Bedford-Stuyvesant townhouse, where a table was set up with coffee and vegan pastries for reporters. (Mr. Adams is a vocal vegan.)
Understand the N.Y.C. Mayoral Race
- Who’s Running for Mayor? There are more than a dozen people in the race to become New York City’s next mayor, and the primary will be held on June 22. Here’s a rundown of the candidates.
- Get to Know the Candidates: We asked leading candidates for mayor questions about everything from police reform and climate change to their favorite bagel order and workout routine.
- What is Ranked-Choice Voting? New York City began using ranked-choice voting for primary elections this year, and voters will be able to list up to five candidates in order of preference. Confused? We can help.
At one point, Mr. Adams appeared unable to speak for more than a minute as he retold a story of being shot at when he was speaking out against racism in the police department, just days after his son was born.
Mr. Adams said that was the reason that he tried to be private about his home life.
“I realized the life I was living, my advocacy, was going to take his dad away from him,” he said. “Throughout my entire police career, none of my colleagues knew I had a son. I wanted to shield him from the reality of what I was doing. I became very private.”
As he led reporters down to the basement level where the bedroom is, Mr. Adams warned reporters to watch out for the creaky first step. There were a pair of African masks on the ledge of the stairway looking as if they were ready to be hung and a dusty-looking smoke detector. A vacuum and broom were at the bottom of the stairs.
The bedroom smelled a bit damp, and there were some suit jackets in the closet. There were three pairs of sneakers on a ledge next to his bed and a few pairs of slippers next to his closet. The blue comforter on the bed was rumpled, and there were at least five pillows.
Even as Mr. Adams found himself on the defensive over residency questions, there were signs of his continued political strength, too: A major Hasidic faction backed Mr. Adams overnight as their first choice for mayor, The Forward reported, after the Yang campaign had previously indicated it had the support of both Satmar factions in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
On the other side of the ideological spectrum in the race, Dianne Morales, a former nonprofit executive, was once a favorite of the left-wing grass-roots. But her campaign has struggled with significant inner turmoil in recent weeks, which may benefit Ms. Wiley as she seeks to consolidate left-wing support.
On Wednesday, more than 40 workers were terminated, according to a tweet from a union representing staff members for Ms. Morales’s campaign.
Anne Barnard and Jazmine Hughes contributed reporting.
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