New York City Mayor Eric Adams has been on the job for less than six months, but according to multiple media reports over the past few days, he’s already considering making a run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2024. While Adams himself denies that he’s thinking about running for the nomination, there’s no doubt that Joe Biden is going to face some serious headwinds and several likely primary opponents if he decides to run for a second term two years from now, and on the surface Adams fits the bill for those Democrats looking for a younger candidate who’s not in thrall to the AOC-wing of the Democratic Party.
There’s one big problem for Adams, however. The mayor ran for office as a law-and-order Democrat and successfully capitalized on his time as an NYPD officer to portray himself to voters as a problem-solver who could reverse the soft-on-crime policies of Bill de Blasio. Since he’s taken office, however, major crimes have continued to increase across the city, while Adams sounds virtually identical to his predecessor when he blames the problem on guns.
Adams has made gun control a central component of his crime fighting plans, which is sure to endear him to the gun control lobby if he does decide to throw his hat into the ring in 2024, though to be fair the same thing can be said of virtually every Democrat mentioned as a potential replacement for Biden in two years. The difference is that, as mayor, Adams is in a position to directly impact New York’s crime fighting strategies and public safety plans, unlike legislators like Elizabeth Warren or members of Biden’s administration like Kamala Harris or Pete Buttigieg. That would make Adams a very attractive candidate for anti-gunners, especially those who’ve expressed frustration over what they see as ineffectiveness and inaction on the part of the administration.
But if Adams can’t get crime under control over the next two years, does he have a chance at the nomination? Even some of the figures who’ve been floating Adams’ name as a potential presidential candidate in 2024 say that the city’s crime rate is key to his electoral chances.
“If Joe Biden doesn’t run, I don’t think it’s at all crazy that @nycmayor would consider running,” tweeted Chris Coffey, the co-chief executive of Tusk Strategies, the firm that ran Andrew Yang’s mayoral campaign last year.
On its face, it sounds a bit ridiculous – and at the least, very premature. Adams is not yet six months into the job, and though his position as mayor of the country’s largest city automatically gives him a national platform, his actual track record so far hasn’t grabbed national headlines as outstanding in any way.
But Adams would hardly be the first New York City mayor to run for president. “If President Biden doesn’t run, I’m sure that like most mayors before him, (Adams) would consider running for president,” Coffey told City & State later on Thursday. In fact, Adams would be breaking a three-mayor streak of presidential hopefuls – Rudy Giuliani, Michael Bloomberg and Bill de Blasio – if he didn’t run. Plus, Adams already has a penchant for travel, burnishing his national profile, and what we can only guess is a hefty number of airline miles.
Coffey said that while he’s not making the case for Adams to run, the mayor of just over four months could appeal to voters on a couple different fronts – as a Black moderate Democrat running at least partially on public safety. For that to happen, Coffey said, Biden would have to drop out and Adams would have to show that he’s actually been successful in tackling crime in the city he runs – neither of which has happened yet. “If those things happen, then I would be really surprised if he didn’t consider it,” Coffey said.
Does Adams actually have to demonstrate a track record of success? Not really. In fact, if Adams can’t make New York a safer place between now and the 2024 election cycle, he may have a built-in excuse depending on what the Supreme Court says in its upcoming decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen. Adams has already told New Yorkers to be “very afraid” of a Court ruling that recognizes the right of average citizens to carry a firearm in self-defense (albeit after obtaining a concealed carry license), and if the Court does recognize that both New York State and New York City carry permitting laws violate the Constitution, Adams will undoubtably lay the blame for any crime increase on a SCOTUS decision that allowed “guns everywhere,” even if there’s no basis for that argument in reality.
Under normal circumstances, I’d agree that if Adams can’t get NYC’s crime under control he loses one of the biggest arguments in favor of his candidacy, but we’re not living in normal times. The New York carry case will likely provide him not only a platform to rail against our Second Amendment right to bear arms in self-defense, but will allow him to (falsely) argue from here on out that any rise in the city’s violent crime can only be checked by curtailing our right to keep and bear arms in the name of “commonsense gun safety.” I don’t think that argument would serve him well at all in a general election, but the gun control lobby could easily end up viewing him as their best shot (no pun intended) at putting their issue front and center in the Democratic primaries.