Scott Stringer Says He Is ‘the Comeback Kid’ in New York City’s Mayoral Race

When New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer announced last September he was running for mayor, he was widely considered the Democratic front-runner, positioning himself as the progressive candidate with a long history of public service and the managerial experience needed to lead an economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nine months later and with a June 22 primary approaching, Mr. Stringer’s campaign hasn’t picked up the steam it hoped.

He has routinely finished third in most mayoral polls behind two moderate Democrats—Brooklyn Borough President

Eric Adams

and former presidential candidate and tech entrepreneur

Andrew Yang

—whose pro-policing platforms in response to the city’s surge in violent crime have helped drum up voter support.

Mr. Stringer’s campaign has also been clouded by sexual-misconduct accusations from a lobbyist who said he groped her and made other unwanted advances two decades ago, when she was a 30-year-old volunteering on his unsuccessful 2001 campaign for public advocate.

The lobbyist, Jean Kim, last month filed an official complaint with the New York state attorney general’s office, asking it to investigate her allegations. A spokeswoman for the office said it reviewed the complaint and determined it lacks jurisdiction to investigate.

Scott Stringer, seen on Thursday, served two terms as Manhattan borough president earlier in his long political career.

Mr. Stringer said in an interview that he still welcomes an investigation and denied the allegation, insisting he and Ms. Kim had a romantic consensual relationship over several months. Ms. Kim denied consenting to such a relationship, saying in an emailed statement that Mr. Stringer “objectified me, did exactly what he wanted and disregarded my humanity.”

Mr. Stringer is among the 13-person field competing in the Democratic primary to succeed term-limited Democratic Mayor

Bill de Blasio.

The winner likely will prevail in November’s general election because registered Democrats outnumber Republicans citywide by more than six to one.

Mr. Stringer says he is still in the running and has defied the odds in past elections.

During the 2013 city comptroller race, he trailed former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer by nearly 20 points in polls less than a month before the Democratic primary but rallied to win the nomination before capturing the general election two months later.

Although Mr. Stringer lacked Mr. Spitzer’s name recognition, he was able to garner key support from feminists by repeatedly reminding voters the ex-governor resigned in 2008 after being caught having liaisons with prostitutes.

“My candidacy was written off, but I came storming back to win, so I’m no stranger to being the comeback kid,” he said.

Mr. Spitzer declined to comment.

After Ms. Kim came forward with her allegations, the Working Families Party and several progressive lawmakers—mostly young women whose endorsements were key to Mr. Stringer’s early campaign strategy—dropped their support of him.

State Sen. Jessica Ramos said in an interview that it pained her to pull her endorsement, but she did so for the good of the Democratic Party, adding that the truth may never be known and right now “New Yorkers deserve a fresh start with a new mayor who isn’t marred in scandal.”

“To this day, I believe Scott Stringer is the most qualified candidate running for mayor,” said Ms. Ramos, a Queens Democrat.

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Many other prominent New York Democrats continue to support Mr. Stringer, including his longtime mentor, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, state Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal and former Manhattan Borough President Ruth Messinger.

“I don’t want to live in a world where a single allegation that can’t be substantiated can end a career,” said Ms. Messinger.

Mr. Stringer also continues to have key support from the nearly 200,000-member United Federation of Teachers and other powerful city-based labor unions.

He had a $7.5 million war chest when he last filed a campaign-finance report in March, trailing only Mr. Adams. The UFT and its parent organization, the American Federation of Teachers, have separately raised roughly $4 million through their political-action committees for a massive advertising effort benefiting Mr. Stringer. The advertising campaign is being paid for through a super PAC called NY 4 CHILDREN Inc., an organizer for the super PAC said.

Mr. Stringer was born into a life in politics. His mother, Arlene Stringer-Cuevas, was a local councilwoman in the 1970s representing Manhattan’s Washington Heights, and his father, Ronald, was counsel to Mayor Abe Beame.

Union members and other supporters listened to Mr. Stringer on Thursday. He has strong backing from the United Federation of Teachers union.

Mr. Stringer first became involved in public service as a 16-year-old, when he was appointed to a local community board, which advises the city on zoning changes, quality-of-life issues and business permitting. In 1992, he was elected to a state Assembly seat representing Manhattan’s Upper West Side, a seat he held through 2005. He also served two terms as Manhattan borough president, from 2006 through 2013.

As the city’s chief fiscal watchdog, he oversees its $253 billion public-pension system and routinely audits city agencies to flag examples of alleged misspending and mismanagement.

Mr. Stringer and his wife, Elyse Buxbaum, married in 2010 and have two young boys. Following the allegations by Ms. Kim, Ms. Buxbaum said she has never met a man more respectful of women and their rights than her husband.

Mr. Stringer said, if elected mayor, he will enrich public-school learning by putting two teachers in each kindergarten to fifth-grade classroom and offer affordable child care to families with children age 3 and under.

He said he would also require all new buildings with 10 or more units in the city to set aside 25% of construction for affordable housing and put $1 billion of federal stimulus funds into a grant program to help small businesses and nonprofits recover from the pandemic.

Mr. Stringer is also one of several left-leaning candidates seeking to direct existing police funding to social services.

He wants to cut the New York Police Department’s annual budget by $1.1 billion over four years by shifting responsibilities he says shouldn’t be handled by officers—including complaints involving the homeless and mentally ill—to trained civilian professionals. The NYPD’s operating budget for the current fiscal year is about $5.2 billion.

City Councilman Joseph Borelli, a Staten Island Republican who chairs the council’s public-safety committee, said he believes Mr. Stringer has hurt his chances of becoming mayor by promising to cut police funding at a time when many New Yorkers don’t feel safe because of rising crime.

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Source: WSJ – US News

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