Shortly after celebrating his first 100 days as mayor this spring, Eric Adams was poolside in Beverly Hills, Calif., already thinking ahead.
Dressed in a crisp blue suit and fuchsia tie, Mr Adams spoke to a crowd of vegan enthusiasts about his allegiance to a plant-based diet at an event at Naren’s mid-century home Shankar, a Hollywood showrunner and producer of “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.”
The underlying motivation, however, was another passion: raising money for his re-election campaign in 2025.
Even as Mr Adams struggled to meet a series of pressing challenges in New York, he launched an unusually early fundraising campaign to secure a second term, a feat no black New York mayor has ever done. realized.
The fundraisers coincide with Mr. Adams’ efforts to establish a national profile. In March, the mayor hosted an event in Chicago at the home of Desirée Rogers, President Barack Obama’s former White House social secretary, with Robert Blackwell Jr., an entrepreneur and Obama ally, in attendance.
This summer, Charles Phillips, the managing partner of Recognize, a tech investment firm, plans to hold a fundraiser for Mr Adams – likely ‘east’, in the Hamptons, he said. said in an interview.
The mayor’s team hopes he will maximize his fundraising by the end of the summer, according to a Democratic consultant who has been briefed on the campaign’s plans. A $2 million haul, coupled with the city’s generous matching funds program, could see him meet the $7.9 million spending cap for the 2025 mayoral primary. Raising a Huge war chest now could fend off potential competitors and capitalize on what’s left of the mayor’s honeymoon period when he’s still relatively popular and donors are eager to grab his attention.
“You want to raise money as a show of force,” said Chris Coffey, chief executive of Tusk Strategies and campaign manager for Andrew Yang for mayor. “You don’t want to spend your senior year fundraising.”
There are few precedents for such an early push. Bill de Blasio, during his first year as mayor, focused on raising money for state senate candidates and for the Campaign for a New York, a nonprofit group that has supported his program — both of which have been part of federal and state investigations into his fundraising. Michael R. Bloomberg didn’t have to worry about fundraising; he used his own wealth to seek a second term, then exercised his personal philanthropy to drum up support to overturn term limits in 2008, spending a record $102 million for a third term.
Mr. Adams’ fundraising strategy also carries political risks, which could potentially make him an absentee leader too focused on politics.
When the mayor was in Beverly Hills, the risk level for coronavirus cases had just risen in New York, raising new concerns about the city’s economic recovery. Federal authorities were considering a takeover of the troubled Rikers Island prison in response to rising violence and inmate deaths. A police officer was slashed in Brooklyn by a man carrying a 16-inch knife.
And when his flight home from California was abruptly cancelled, Mr Adams had to abandon most of his events for the day, including a rally at City Hall to lobby the state legislature to extend the mayor’s control over the city’s schools.
Mr Adams has already seen his approval rating plummet as he faces increasing pressure to tackle rising crime and an affordable housing crisis. Only 29% of New Yorkers said its performance was good or excellent, and 56% said the city was heading in the wrong direction, according to a recent poll by NY1 and Siena College.
Mr. Adams defended his poll results, arguing that New Yorkers were tough graders and that many had given him a “fair” grade, which he considered a C grade.
“Look, a C is not an A, but a C is not an F,” Mr Adams told reporters.
The mayor has proven to be a prolific fundraiser. He raised more than $9 million for the Democratic primary and general election last year and another $10 million in matching funds. Mr. Adams spent much of last summer traveling the Hamptons and Martha’s Vineyard to woo wealthy donors who favored his brand of centrism, attending up to five fundraisers a day.
Mr. Adams, a former state senator and Brooklyn borough president, has at times tested the limits of campaign finance and ethics laws. He was investigated for his role in supporting a video lottery terminal bidder for Aqueduct Racecourse and was criticized for taking money from developers who were lobbying on him to support crucial zoning changes.
As a mayoral candidate, Mr. Adams has raised funds from a wide range of donors, including real estate developers, billionaires, cannabis investors, hedge fund executives, Republicans and New Yorkers. Working class Yorkers. He has raised more than $2.8 million from donors outside of New York, and a super PAC supporting his campaign has raised around $7 million.
Now as mayor, Mr. Adams has once again embraced fundraising with vigor. On June 3, after giving a keynote speech in Queens, Mr. Adams attended a fundraiser at the offices of a construction company in Midtown Manhattan, hosted by Bravo Group chief executive Ehab Shehata . At the mid-workday event, Mr Adams told the crowd that the city could only bounce back if crime levels drop and he was the man for the job, according to a person who attended the event.
Mr. Shehata did not respond to requests for comment. But he is not the only local executive eager to curry favor with the mayor.
Marc Holliday, managing director of SL Green Realty Corp., which co-owns the new One Vanderbilt skyscraper near Grand Central Terminal, reached out to other real estate executives in April on behalf of Mr. Adams’ 2025 campaign . The tower has hosted at least two mayoral appearances, including the Wells Fargo product launch in April where the mayor partied with model and actress Cara Delevingne, earning a place in the gossip pages.
“At a time when NYC needed him most, Eric ran for mayor and quickly became the face and engine of New York’s recovery,” Holliday wrote in an email. “Anything you can do would be much appreciated.”
The first public disclosures for the 2025 mayoral race are due next month and will provide a clearer picture of the donors Mr Adams is counting on.
Barry Gosin, CEO of Newmark Group, a commercial real estate company, is hosting a fundraiser for Mr. Adams on Wednesday on the fifth floor of a skyscraper near Grand Central Terminal. Participants are asked to donate between $400 and $2,000 each.
“This is an opportunity to support a great, authentic mayor,” Mr. Gosin said. “He works hard, and I think the things he does are the things that should be done. But that’s my opinion.”
The Chicago fundraiser was attended by Mr Blackwell, the table tennis company executive who donated $400 to Mr Adams’ mayoral campaign last year. It was co-hosted by Ms. Rogers and Carol Adams, the former president of the DuSable Museum of African American History.
“To run for office you need money – expensive city, expensive advertising market,” Mr Phillips said. “And you have to tell your story before someone else does.”
Another fundraiser in May at the Kimberly Hotel in Midtown Manhattan brought together New York Knicks forward Taj Gibson and Jean Shafiroff, a fixture on the charity circuit who attended a party for Mr. Adams in the Hamptons last summer.
“We have to give it a chance,” she said. “I like what he represents. It’s really not fair to judge anyone after three months.