The cold rain dashed countless Memorial Day weekend plans in New York City, including those of the eight leading Democratic candidates for mayor, who were understandably eager to bump as many elbows as possible with just over three weeks before the June 22 primary.
Instead of campaigning at subway spots and in parks, candidates spent the weekend in search of captive audiences. They tracked them down in churches, in bars and wherever dry spots could be found.
Their messages varied in nuance, but the cold rain did not drown out one unifying theme: Post-pandemic New York City is in crisis, with a rise in shootings, increasing poverty and an exacerbated need for affordable housing.
Several of the candidates made haste to pulpits in the voter-rich neighborhoods of central Brooklyn and southeast Queens to tout their wares.
In East Flatbush, Andrew Yang pitched himself to parishioners at the Clarendon Road Church as an heir to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s fight against poverty.
Dr. King argued for a version of guaranteed income, Mr. Yang pointed out — a concept that Mr. Yang cast a klieg light on during his 2020 presidential campaign. (The candidate made a point of noting that he knows Martin Luther King III, who is backing his campaign.)
“This is when you probably met me, is when I appeared on your TV screens,” Mr. Yang told the congregation. “Now, you might remember this, the magical Asian man, who was saying we should start giving everyone money.”
At separate Pentecostal churches in Queens, parishioners encountered beeping thermometers, consent forms and two well-funded but badly lagging first-time candidates for mayor: Raymond J. McGuire and Shaun Donovan.
At Bethel Gospel Tabernacle, a majority Black church in a working-class section of Jamaica, a 15-piece live band and choir played rousing gospel to nearly empty pews, while two jumbo screens flanking the stage showed a live webcast interview with Mr. McGuire, the former Citigroup executive.
It was the first of four scheduled church stops on Sunday in Queens, during which Mr. McGuire referenced his “old Pentecostal” religious upbringing and warned that New York City was facing “a crisis of Covid, a crisis of the economy, a crisis of safety and a crisis of education.” He said he was best equipped to lead the city to a place of shared prosperity.
“I do not owe any political favors,” Mr. McGuire said.
At Aliento de Vida, a bilingual church in Corona in an old playhouse, parishioners were greeted to a speech from Mr. Donovan, the former housing and budget secretary who is running on his experience in the Obama administration.
His framing was similar to Mr. McGuire’s.
New York is in a “Nehemiah moment,” Mr. Donovan said, referring to the biblical figure who rebuilt Jerusalem from ruins.
Scott M. Stringer, the New York City comptroller who is trying to revive his campaign following an allegation of sexual harassment, had planned to host his Sunday media event outdoors, in Foley Square. But with the rain pouring down, he relocated to the vaulted, Guastavino-tiled overhang at 1 Centre Street in Manhattan.
There, Mr. Stringer said he would tamp down on the rise in hate crimes by educating students about the dangers of bigotry and focusing resources on hate-crime hot spots.
Understand the N.Y.C. Mayoral Race
- Who’s Running for Mayor? There are more than a dozen people still 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.
Mr. Stringer, who is running as a progressive, implicitly renounced the more pro-policing campaigns of his competitors.
“We can do it without resorting to the old Giuliani-style playbook of over-policing,” Mr. Stringer said.
Citing the rain, Maya Wiley had to scrap two outdoor events on Saturday at the Bronx Night Market and the Urbanspace Market in Bryant Park.
She began her Sunday morning at two Black Baptist churches in Brooklyn, touting her commitment to New York City public housing, but then had to scratch another outdoor event planned for Socrates Sculpture Park in the progressive precincts of western Queens.
Instead, she ended up at Katch bar in Astoria, with State Senator Michael Gianaris, who earned his progressive merit badge by helping to torpedo Amazon’s plans to build a second headquarters in Long Island City.
At the bar, Ms. Wiley sampled a signature house cocktail with tequila renamed the “Mayarita” for the occasion. Over the din of more than two dozen flat-screen TVs showing a New York Knicks playoff game, Ms. Wiley and Mr. Gianaris greeted customers and well-wishers from behind the bar and served them the red concoction in stemmed cocktail glasses.
It was a tougher setting than church for contemplating the city’s woes, but Ms. Wiley tried.
“We had a crisis before Covid — of affordability, of systemic racism,” she said, “and what Covid did was fast-track and deepen some of the crises we already were facing.”
She said the city is in recovery from the disease, but even when it is curbed, “We will still have people facing eviction. We will still have people who are hungry. We will still have a homeless crisis. We will still have a crisis of safety — safety from crime and safety from police violence.”
Roseann McSorley, who owns and runs Katch with her husband, said the restaurant has hosted other women seeking office, including Cynthia Nixon and State Senator Jessica Ramos. Ms. McSorley didn’t outright endorse Ms. Wiley but said she supported the effort to put a woman in Gracie Manson, adding: “It’s time.”
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