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Adams is the talk of Somos — even though he isn’t there

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“There have to be options,” said City Council member Diana Ayala. “I’m very disappointed with the management of the current administration.

Ayala is considering running for mayor herself, having “very preliminary conversations.”

But, she added, “I don’t think I should be the only one running. This is an invitation to others. That’s what democracy is about. If not now, when?

The campaign fundraiser for Adams had her home raided by the FBI last week as federal prosecutors investigate whether the campaign conspired with the Turkish government to funnel illegal contributions from foreign citizens to the campaign through straw donors.

Nobody has been charged in the case, and there’s no indication that Adams himself will be implicated. Adams said Wednesday he had hired the law firm WilmerHale to represent him in the probe.

The city’s fiscal woes are keeping him home, Adams said Wednesday, along a pause on non-essential travel. He didn’t mention whether the FBI raid also influenced the apparently-last-minute decision.

But his troubles back home were on the tip of people’s tongues.

“People are circling, waiting to see if there’s a there there,” said one New York City lobbyist. “If he’s implicated, things could unravel quickly.”

The annual Somos conference brings more than 2,000 figures in New York’s political ecosystem together for a five-day conference on Latino issues. It’s also among the largest networking events of the year, where people come to lobby, gossip and plan for the upcoming year.

So in Adams’ absence, a few potential mayoral challengers filled the spotlight — whether they liked it or not.

Every two feet, state Sen. Zellnor Myrie got stopped by people wanting a hug or a quick word, as he walked through the lobby of the Caribe Hilton on his way to state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s opening night reception Wednesday.

“Can we get the principal inside?!” His fiancé, former Assembly member Diana Richardson joked to the other members of his entourage.

“I have been approached, I continue to be approached,” about running for mayor, Myrie told POLITICO. But those political conversations aren’t on most New Yorker’s minds.

“Most New Yorkers are wondering why they can’t pay rent, have no path to homeownership, cannot afford their medication, do not have support for child care,” he said.

Should the mayor be here? Myrie paused for 12 seconds. “I’m not going to comment on the mayor’s scheduling choices,” he said. “I think that is wholly within his administration’s power to decide what’s important.”

But key members of his team are at the conference, on their own dime, including chief adviser Ingrid Lewis-Martin, advisers Diane Savino and Peter Koo and campaign lawyer Vito Pitta. NYPD Commissioner Edward Caban is here, along with top staff including Kaz R. Daughtry, and so is Sheriff Anthony Miranda — wearing a six-pointed star pin.

State Sen. Jessica Ramos came in early, on Election Day.

“I know that talking about the future of the mayoral seat is a very sexy topic,” she said, but I think that much more of a priority is learning when White House meetings are going to get rescheduled, and how we’re actually going to get back on track trying to get the funding that we need.”

That cheeky, let’s-focus-on-the-work tone was shared by Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso.

“People are asking a lot of people to run,” he said. Himself, included. “I’m here to discuss issues affecting Latinos in Brooklyn.

Other potential mayoral candidates’ names are getting floated too. Some, too ridiculous to print. Others, yet-to-be-confirmed rumors.

One trend: They’re not all Working Families Party-aligned progressives. The last two years — and maybe the last week especially — have some insiders dreaming of a moderate, or a technocrat.

“Everyone in the nonprofit world’s like ‘Chris Quinn is going to run, right?’” said one nonprofit lobbyist, talking about the former City Council speaker turned homeless shelter executive. She ran for mayor in 2013, and while she’s said she won’t challenge Adams, she hasn’t closed the door to running.

“It will take a very special kind of progressive to beat Eric Adams in 2025, but a more centrist, or even just a slightly-to-the-left of Eric Adams candidate could really challenge him,” said political consultant Ryan Adams, who has worked for New York City Council member Justin Brannan, another other candidates. “Most of all, whoever challenges Eric Adams would have to be fun. No boring person will beat Eric Adams.

The mayoral race talk has some Adams defenders wishing people would slow down. It’s too soon to write him off, they said, despite slumping poll numbers even before the latest scandal.

”Based on what we’re hearing right now we have no reason not to be with the mayor,” Sen. James Sanders said about himself and his colleagues representing the largely Black, middle class neighborhoods of southeast Queens. “We’ve seen so many incidents of the media hooting and hollering, and in the end there’s no there there.”

Sanders endorsed Adams in 2021, but the mayor even needs to firm up support with old allies. “Are we totally happy with everything? Heck no,” he said. “We’re looking for initiatives from the mayor. Some way that he is remembering that we are in southeast Queens and we vote.”

A version of this story first appeared in Thursday’s New York Playbook. Subscribe here.


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