The New York mayor’s race already has a national political touch thanks to one man: businessman Andrew Yang, whose long-term campaign for the nomination of the Democratic President began to falter at the beginning of last year, who is now considered to be the front runner in the city’s mayoral election. (That’s despite his talent for Trigger a moan on twitter.)
But it’s not just personalities who bridge the gap between local and national politics. It’s the money too.
This mayoral election will be the first in the city to feature super PACs – the dark money groups that emerged after the 2010 US Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v Federal Election Commission.
But it’s also the first race in which a number of candidates use a city policy that allows campaigns to gain access to more generous public matching funds based on their base support.
With the possibly decisive Democratic primary in just over two months, our Metro reporters Dana Rubinstein and Jeffery C. Mays wrote an article on how the hunt for Super PAC cash makes the race complicated – and raises ethical questions about some campaigns, including some that are also public Appropriate means. Dana took a moment on her Friday afternoon to update me on the state of affairs.
Hello Dana. Citizens United’s decision was made in 2010. However, it seems like this is the first time we’ve heard of Super PACs being used on a large scale in the New York Mayor’s race. How does this development affect the city’s redesigned Matching Funds policy, which aims to encourage small donations? Are the guidelines conflicting – or, as a source in your story put it, “like mending part of your roof and the water finds another way in”?
There were quite a few independent editions (or “I.E.”) Activity in Mayor’s Elementary School in 2013, but it was not candidate-specific – with one possible exception. There was a Super PAC called New York City is not for sale that was candidate specific in the sense that it targeted one candidate, Christine Quinn, and whose funding was received from Bill de Blasio supporters. But this is really the first time we have candidate-specific I.E.s. While they have proliferated at the national level, New York candidates have oriented themselves towards the national scene.
If you speak to people at the Brennan Center who are big supporters of the Matching Funds program, they will point it out and say that voters should take heart as it is proving to be a success in many ways. The six mayoral candidates who qualified for Matching Funds this year were the most of all time. Funding will be distributed based on the number of New York City voters who contribute to election campaigns. This means that someone like Dianne Morales, who has no electoral history and was not a big player at all in the New York political scene prior to this election, is able to make a real argument for mayor. She can start a real campaign. In that round, she received $ 2 million in matching funding.
But then you have this parallel universe of super PAC money. And in some cases you have candidates who are given the right funding – that’s our tax money – and benefit from super PACs. Of course, super PACs should be independent and not coordinated with campaigns, but it’s hard for some voters to see that and think it’s an ideal scenario.
Basically we have two parallel donation systems: One is almost completely unregulated, the other is very strictly regulated and contains tax money.
Who will lead the race for Super PAC money in New York? And what’s the general state of the race these days, apart from money?
Shaun Donovan, the former Housing Secretary under President Barack Obama, participates in the Matching Funds program and has a Super PAC. Scott Stringer, the City Comptroller, also has a Super PAC – albeit a much less lucrative one – and is raising funds accordingly. Andrew Yang has a super PAC that was founded by a longtime friend of his name, David Rose. It has raised a nominal amount of money, but no one has the illusion that it isn’t going to raise a lot of money anytime soon. And there is this other super PAC, linked to Yang and supposedly in the works, involving Lis Smith, who was involved in Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign.
Then there’s Ray McGuire, a former Citigroup executive and one of the most senior African-American bank managers of all time. He has a super PAC that has raised $ 4 million from all sorts of recognizable names. You spend a lot of money with the aim of increasing its awareness.
As for the state of the race, we have no idea. As you can confirm, there has been virtually no credible poll here. In terms of the polls available, there is some consistency in what they propose: Yang has a head start, but half of the voters are undecided. You have Eric Adams, Scott Stringer, Maya Wiley, and then the rest of the pack.
It is both too early to say and alarmingly close to election day on June 22nd. We really have no idea where things are. If you add new ranking choice voting to this year’s new ranking, it really is an open-ended question.
You mentioned Shaun Donovan earlier, whose story is featured prominently in the article you and Jeff have just written. Let us know what’s going on there.
In addition to being the former housing secretary for Obama, he was also the budget manager. So he’s a very well respected technocrat who is also the son of a wealthy ad tech manager. Someone created a super PAC to support his candidacy for mayor. This Super PAC raised just over $ 2 million, and exactly $ 2 million of that sum was donated by his father.
It is entirely within the realm of possibility that his father said, “You know what? I really love my son. I think he would be a great mayor. I’ll fund his super PAC. ”Without any coordination on how the money would be used. However, it is difficult for some people to imagine a scenario in which the father and son do not talk about such things. Or maybe not! The point is, it’s almost undetectable, isn’t it?
There’s a lot of winking and nodding in this stuff, and you don’t necessarily need direct coordination to have effective coordination.
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