Borough President Eric Adams scored a major fundraising milestone for his bid to become Mayor of New York City.
The beep’s fundraising outpaced all other candidates for what’s expected to be a hotly contested 2021 Democratic Primary to replace lame duck Mayor Bill de Blasio.
In financial disclosure records released this week, Adams reported raising just under $512,000 during a six-month period from January 12 to July 11 — leaps ahead of his closest financial competitor, Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D–Manhattan), who raised just over $375,000 during the same time period.
Another Democrat seeking the Party nomination is Comptroller Scott Stringer, who reported the third highest fundraising total for the filing period at $313,000. Stringer leads all mayoral candidates in cash-on-hand with just under $2.6 million currently in his campaign bank account.
Adams has not officially announced his candidacy for the city’s highest office, and his campaign currently bears the austere title, “Adams 2021.” However, a spokesman for the beep’s campaign left little room to doubt his boss’s mayoral aspirations when asked about the fundraising achievement.
“New Yorkers believe in Eric and trust that he shares their vision for our city — that’s why so many of them from such diverse backgrounds are supporting his campaign to lead the five boroughs,” said campaign spokesperson Evan Thies.
The disclosures come amid a heated debate surrounding recent changes made to campaign finance laws.
Candidates now have the option to limit themselves to maximum campaign contributions of $2,000, which would allow donations up to $250 to be matched with public funds at an eight-to-one rate.
The new law is not mandatory, however. Candidates may opt to continue fundraising under the old laws, which allows maximum contributions of $5,100, where donations up to only $175 would be matched with public funds at a lesser rate of six-to-one. The new option was designed to benefit grassroots campaigns which raise money from small donors.
Adams is expected to opt for the older regulations, while Johnson — who, as the head of the city’s legislature, was largely responsible for crafting the new rules — will opt to only accept donations below the $2,000 threshold, allowing his funds to be matched at the higher ratio. In fact, Johnson announced that he would abide by an even-lower, self-imposed maximum donation limit of just $250.
Stringer will also opt for the newer guidelines — albeit, without rising up to Johnson’s showy self-imposed limit — according to his Finance Director Emily Bernstein. Doing so will require the Comptroller to return all donations over the $2,000 limit, which he had accepted prior to the new laws taking effect.
Adams’ decision to accept larger contributions now in exchange for lower public matching later explains his ability to eclipse Johnson during the previous disclosure period. The Borough President accepted 79 contributions over $2,000. Had he subjected his fundraising to the $2,000 limit, his six-month total would descend to just over $373,000 — less than Johnson, but still more than Stringer.
But Adams’ current financial advantage may evaporate when matching funds arrive in 2021, and only time will tell whether cash now trumps riches later.