Opinion: The ‘Silly Season’

Clockwise from top left: Comptroller Scott Stringer, Councilman Carlos Menchaca, Borough President Eric Adams, civil rights activist Maya Wiley, entrepreneur Andrew Yang, and Congressman Max Rose.

The silly season has begun, six months and two weeks where lots of lies are told — all because this city is starting to pick its next mayor. 

I think the two most likely candidates for mayor have each been planning their campaign for literal decades: Comptroller Scott Stringer and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. In previous elections they would be preparing for a runoff, but now they’re planning to outlast the other candidates in the ranked choice primary. More on that later. 

Maya Wiley and Ray McGuire are both highly compelling African-Americans (Wiley is mixed-race) who have never before held elective office and just a few years ago were not planning to be mayor. I think they have more crossover appeal than the other candidates, and either could win. 

Wiley worked for her Brownstone Brooklyn neighbor Bill de Blasio and has been less critical of the mayor than the other candidates; McGuire, a former executive at Citigroup and a top art collector, announced his campaign last week in a video directed by Spike Lee.

Shaun Donovan and Kathryn Garcia both have lots of city government experience and announced their candidacies this week, but they will likely struggle with fundraising more than the wealthy McGuire or Wiley, who is well-known from TV. 

Former presidential candidate Andrew Yang and soon-to-be-former congressman Max Rose both might run, whereas it looks like former Council Speaker Christine Quinn will not. Each would be in the top nine candidates but not the top four.

Nonprofit executive Dianne Morales and city Councilman Carlos Menchaca are also running. I think both will struggle with fundraising even more than Garcia does, especially Carlos.

Two veterans, Loree Sutton and Zach Iscol, are also running, as are many others. I think virtually all of us will only be hearing about them rarely.

Six Black council members are also suing to stop ranked choice voting, which was passed by voters 75-25 last year, because they believe the new system — where you list up to five candidates you like in order, and after the candidates with fewer votes are dropped, their votes are redistributed to stronger candidates — will confuse voters of color. In every case, their constituents voted for this measure by at least two-to-one.

Here in Brooklyn, we’ve had our own silly season. The county Democratic Party needed to fill unelected vacancies to its county committee before its official meeting. This was done under cover of new rules approved to add gender-nonconforming individuals to party leadership, but the motivation was clear: “We need all the County Committee members we can get, to overcome these f—— progressives,” former County Chair Frank Seddio was recorded saying.

So if you were wondering why current County Chair Rodneyse Bichotte felt compelled to publish an op-ed in this paper this week, that’s why. 

The silly season never really begins or ends.