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N.Y.C. Primary Debate Shaken by Last-Minute Change


Marcia Kramer is the chief political correspondent for CBS.
Credit…Mark Lennihan/Associated Press

The moderators of tonight’s debate on WCBS-TV are, appropriately enough, two of the station’s broadcast journalists: Marcia Kramer and Maurice DuBois.

Ms. Kramer, the channel’s chief political correspondent, has been a political journalist in New York for decades. Before jumping to WCBS in 1990, she covered Albany and City Hall for The New York Daily News.

Ms. Kramer has been known for asking direct questions of elected officials and politicians. Notably, in 1992, she asked then-candidate Bill Clinton about his marijuana use, prompting his famous comment that he “did not inhale.”

She would later moderate a debate with Hillary Clinton during her successful 2000 bid for U.S. Senate, and she has questioned candidates in debates in past races for governor and mayor.

Credit…Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for The National Urban Technology Center

Mr. DuBois, an anchor for WCBS-TV’s 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts, has been a broadcast journalist in New York since 1997. He has covered past national political conventions in addition to more local races.

Along with Ms. Kramer, Mr. DuBois moderated a heated 2018 debate during the Democratic primary for governor between Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Cynthia Nixon.

Shaun Donovan, the former federal housing secretary, is one of three Democratic candidates who has participated in previous debates but won’t be on stage tonight.
Credit…Karsten Moran for The New York Times

The debate tonight will feature only five leading Democrats running for mayor: Eric Adams, Kathryn Garcia, Scott M. Stringer, Maya D. Wiley and Andrew Yang.

Mr. Adams had initially said he would not attend the debate, but changed his mind on Thursday.

Several other candidates who have appeared in other debates were not invited: Shaun Donovan, the former federal housing secretary; Raymond J. McGuire, a former Wall Street executive; and Dianne Morales, a former nonprofit executive.

Mike Nelson, a spokesman for CBS, said the hosts wanted to feature only the leading contenders and the decision was based on polling and the number of small-dollar contributions each candidate has.

Mr. Donovan’s campaign was upset that he did not receive an invite.

“It’s outrageous that CBS would put their thumb so heavily on the scale during a democratic election,” his campaign manager, Brendan McPhillips, said in a statement. “Not only have they failed to reach out to all of the candidates, they won’t even share the criteria for their arbitrary decision.”

The most recent polls have showed Mr. Adams in front, with Ms. Wiley, Mr. Yang and Ms. Garcia not far behind. Support for Mr. Stringer, the city comptroller, has fallen after he was accused of sexual misconduct by two women.

Mr. Donovan, Mr. McGuire and Ms. Morales were all at roughly 5 percent or less in recent polls. Mr. Donovan and Mr. McGuire have failed to take off as candidates despite raising large amounts of money. Ms. Morales has faced growing problems with her campaign staff.

Eric Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, reversed course on Thursday and said he would debate four of his rivals.
Credit…Dave Sanders for The New York Times

In an effort to avoid a potentially “painful distraction” for the family of a slain child, Eric Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, on Thursday reversed course and said he would in fact be participating in tonight’s debate.

In a two-part Twitter thread, Mr. Adams decried his opponents’ attempts to “politicize” a vigil for Justin Wallace, 10, who was killed last week in Rockaway, Queens, that Mr. Adams had been planning to attend in lieu of the CBS debate. Mr. Adams said that after speaking with a representative for the Wallace family, he had decided to skip the vigil and “continue to work with the family to bring an end to gun violence.”

Justin, who was just days shy of his 11th birthday, was shot and killed while opening the door to his aunt’s house. The police charged a suspect with murder on Tuesday, the same day that Justin had been planning to celebrate his birthday with a trip to an amusement park.

Various vigils had been planned for Justin this week, including one on Wednesday attended by three of Mr. Adams’s rivals, Andrew Yang, Maya D. Wiley, and Raymond J. McGuire, and another on Thursday organized by Justin’s school and written about in the Rockaway Times.

Mr. Yang had accused Mr. Adams of skipping the debate because he was afraid to answer tough questions, while one of Mr. Yang’s campaign managers claimed Mr. Adams had created his own vigil as an excuse to skip out on the debate.

Donovan Richards, the Queens borough president and a former councilman from Rockaway who has endorsed Mr. Adams, erupted in anger when asked about Mr. Yang’s contention.

“Stop trying to score political points on the back of a 10-year-old boy who should have been graduating,” he said Thursday. “You can go back to your home and sleep at night, but at the end of the night, every person has to lay their head on a pillow, and their pillow sheets are drenched.”

Mr. Adams’ team had also pointed that he was already participating in all three debates required by the city’s Campaign Finance Board, and this is not one of them.

“Andrew Yang fled the city at its darkest moment, so he really shouldn’t be accusing others of hiding,” said Menashe Shapiro, one of Mr. Adams’ campaign aides, referencing the fact that Mr. Yang spent at least part of the pandemic at his house in New Paltz, N.Y.

Supporters rallied outside the CBS Broadcast Center before the debate.
Credit…Hilary Swift for The New York Times

The third debate among Democratic candidates for mayor of New York City takes place Thursday evening from 7 to 8 p.m.

Unlike the two previous debates, only five of the leading candidates are set to attend. Kathryn Garcia, Scott M. Stringer, Maya Wiley and Andrew Yang had been planning to participate, and Eric Adams said on Thursday morning that he would also take part after initially planning to attend a vigil for a 10-year-old who was fatally shot in Queens instead.

The event is the last televised debate before the start of early voting on Saturday ahead of the June 22 primary. One more debate is scheduled for next Wednesday. The dynamics of the contest still appear largely fluid, and there has been little data to capture how several major recent developments are registering with voters.

Here are some of the ways you can watch and follow the debate:

  • Reporters from The New York Times will provide commentary and analysis throughout the hour.

  • The debate will be televised on CBS 2 New York and available on the outlet’s online streaming platforms.

  • A Spanish-language broadcast will be available on WLNY TV 10/55.

  • Listeners can also tune into the debate through the radio stations WCBS Newsradio 880 and 1010 WINS.

  • Other streams are often available on YouTube.

Left-wing lawmakers and leaders have made a major push to consolidate around Maya Wiley, center, seen here with one of her Democratic rivals, Andrew Yang, and Mr. Yang’s wife, Evelyn.
Credit…Karsten Moran for The New York Times

To borrow from mayoral candidate Dianne Morales, the Democratic primary for New York City mayor is shaping up to be a “beautiful mess” in its final stretch.

Two days before early voting begins, and with less than two weeks before the June 22 primary that will almost certainly determine the city’s next mayor, the contest appears unpredictable, increasingly rancorous and rocked by controversies, substantive and otherwise.

Five leading candidates will take the stage in the penultimate debate of the race on Thursday: Eric Adams, the Brooklyn borough president and presumed front-runner; Andrew Yang, the former presidential candidate; Kathryn Garcia, the former sanitation commissioner; Maya D. Wiley, a former counsel to Mayor Bill de Blasio, and Scott M. Stringer, the city comptroller.

Mr. Adams, Mr. Yang and Ms. Garcia had appeared to pull ahead in some sparse recent public polling. But Mr. Adams is likely to be a central focus of the debate as he contends with questions about his residency — he says that he lives in Brooklyn, and in fact has spent considerable time sleeping at Borough Hall. But rivals have questioned whether he is spending more of his time at a residence he co-owns with his partner in Fort Lee, N.J., and whether he is being truthful about where he lives.

Ms. Wiley and Mr. Stringer had been in competition for support from the most progressive forces in the Democratic Party. But last week, a second woman accused Mr. Stringer of making unwanted sexual advances when, she said, she worked at a bar he co-owned decades ago. Mr. Stringer said he did not recall the woman, Teresa Logan, but he said he apologized if he had made her uncomfortable. He has denied an initial allegation of making unwanted sexual advances during a 2001 campaign. The controversies halted his momentum, and a number of his supporters have abandoned him for Ms. Wiley and Mr. Adams.

Over the last week, left-wing lawmakers and leaders have made a major push to consolidate around Ms. Wiley: Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez backed her last weekend; Jumaane D. Williams, the New York City public advocate, did the same on Wednesday. Ms. Morales had also been contending for support from that wing of the party, but amid a campaign uprising and battle over unionizing efforts, she terminated dozens of workers this week, according to the union.

Ms. Morales, Shaun Donovan, a former federal housing secretary, and Raymond J. McGuire, a former Citi executive, have qualified for other debates, but not for the Thursday matchup.





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