New York City Mayoral candidate Maya Wiley speaks to the media on June 02, 2021 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
New York City Mayoral candidate Maya Wiley speaks to the media on June 02, 2021 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images 

With AOC's endorsement, Maya Wiley gains momentum in NYC mayor's race

Sometimes it’s all about a little recognition.


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Many have fallen, some have stumbled, but Maya Wiley is making a rush to the finish. 

Once overshadowed by giants in New York’s political realm — Andrew Yang, and Eric Adams — Wiley has recently earned the endorsements of the most prominent progressives in the state of New York and beyond.

She has won the backing of progressive candidates like Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Secretary and presidential candidate Julián Castro.

She has also won the endorsement of New York’s public advocate Jumaane Williams and State Sen. Julia Salazar, among others. 

Wiley’s highest profile endorsement, however, came just this past weekend, from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), who called Wiley her top choice for mayor with a primary election coming in mere weeks, on June 22, where voters will choose between five candidates. 

Of the Republican candidates in the race, neither is likely to present a substantial  challenge to the winner of the Democratic primary, so it all comes down to a handful of days from now. 

AOC recently announced Wiley as the latest Courage to Change PAC candidate at a rally on Saturday outside New York City Hall. She also certified a number of City Council candidates with scores based on a questionnaire created by the PAC, which varied on their commitment to policies like cutting NYPD’s budget, rejecting campaign donors and supporting Green New Deal Initiatives. 

Before she received AOC’s endorsement, Wiley had been considered a longshot in polling, and other candidates like Andrew Yang, Scott Stringer, and Eric Adams were receiving the bulk of the press. The New York Times has endorsed Katheryn Garcia, and the New York Post also publicly endorsed Adams. 

In regards to Adams and Stringer, they had been consistently polling at the top, and the two more moderate choices for mayor. 

Before the slew of Progressive endorsements that rallied last minute, Wiley had escaped notice from the masses, though she had been campaigning on traditional progressive measures.  

She has campaigned on a variety of such policies, including expanding investments in public housing, funding a “care home” to send thousands to low-income families for child and elderly care, and creating a stimulus jobs program.

Wiley's platform also calls for "transforming" New York’s system of policing, and she has backed measures that would cut at least $1 billion from NYPD’s budget and divert these funds to mental health, homeless services and public education. 

In the first major poll conducted after AOC’s backing by PIX 11, NewsNation and Emerson College, Wiley jumped to second place, just behind longtime frontrunner Eric Adams. 

It’s a critical turning point for Wiley, with just under 12 days before the tell-all primary election. 

“Looks like #Mayamentum to me” AOC wrote on Twitter, following the shift in polling. 

It was a late endorsement relative to others that have come in the race, but it also comes in the aftermath of several recent scandals by top candidates in the running. 

Andrew Yang didn’t know what a New York bodega was back in February, and it turned out he didn’t even live within city limits. He has also come out with several statements that had people criticizing whether he truly understood the needs of New Yorkers — from pro-Israel statements that provided insight into how dependent he would be on big money as a mayor, to tokenizing remarks towards the LGBTQ+ and Latino communities. 

Scott Stringer, one of the more progressive candidates, was gaining momentum at the beginning of this year. He was notably one of the only candidates with a dedicated plan for the Latino community. All of that was quickly derailed when the city’s controller was accused of sexual misconduct by two women, including a former campaign staffer. She accused him of unwanted kissing and groping, which Stringer denied.

Eric Adams, the longtime frontrunner recently came under fire for perhaps not living within New York City either. Then, the memes ensued after he attempted to rectify the situation with an unintentionally ridiculous video. 

To Wiley’s favor, she now has the AOC effect, which the nation has witnessed in the most recent 2020 elections. It’s the power that she and the Squad have continued to cultivate for years, since they assumed office in 2018. 

It was seen this earlier last year when all Squad members — Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, and Ayanna Pressley —  won their elections. AOC won by a landslide, and progressive candidates like Jamaal Bowman and Mondaire Jones were elected to office to join them. 

It was also seen when Sen. Ed Markey won his own election last year — the first time a Kennedy (Joe Kennedy) had ever lost an election in Massachusetts in one of the most closely-followed Democratic primaries of 2020. Her endorsement, and his ties to the Green New Deal, gave his campaign that much needed spark. 

It was a testament to AOC’s power. 

In Wiley’s case, AOC’s endorsement came late, but when taking into account the most recent polling it came just in time.


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