Opinion | The N.Y.C. Mayoral Debate’s Winners and Losers

Welcome to the Times Opinion scorecard for New York City’s second mayoral debate of 2021, which featured the eight main Democratic candidates on Wednesday night time. A mixture of Times writers and outdoors political specialists assessed the contenders’ performances and rated them on a scale of 1 to 10. One means the candidate most likely doesn’t belong in Gracie Mansion and possibly not even on the talk stage (although no matter you considered the talk itself, the sight of the eight contenders in the identical room was very welcome); 10 means she or he is able to take over from Mayor Bill de Blasio, who can’t run once more due to town’s term-limits legislation.

Eric Adams

Eric Adams


Gerson Borrero (eight/10) — From his clear opening assertion to his calm responses displaying an individual who doesn’t get bent out of practice, Adams dealt with the assaults in opposition to him like a man who’s snug along with his present standing as numero uno within the race. He received the night time.

Mara Gay (eight/10) — Much of the second debate centered on public security, and Adams was clearly in his component. His regular deal with preventing gun violence and schooling labored nicely. Adams, a probable front-runner, stored his cool amid a barrage of assaults. “I’m very popular,” Adams joked, as his rivals piled on.

Michelle Goldberg (7/10) — He received beat up a bit and may barely disguise his contempt for Maya Wiley and Andrew Yang, however the different candidates nonetheless haven’t settled on a coherent case in opposition to him.

Christina Greer (7/10) — Linked public security to the financial system, which resonates with voters. Definitely wasn’t the firecracker we’ve seen in earlier debates. Less could also be extra for Adams at this second, particularly as questions pertaining to previous statements proceed to comply with him.

Credit…WABC-TV and the New York City Campaign Finance Board

Celeste Katz Marston (7/10) — Smiling and assured, Adams leaned a bit extra into the private story that informs his profession and marketing campaign than he did within the first debate. Reined in his tendency to speak all the way down to challengers, however couldn’t shake it utterly.

Eleanor Randolph (6/10) — Managed to look serene, besides when Yang accused him of going through a “trifecta of corruption investigations” by numerous authorities businesses. Wiley additionally wished to know the way he may say he would carry a gun to church.

Grace Rauh (7/10) — Most highly effective second was his back-and-forth with Yang, battling for front-runner standing. Adams to Yang: “You can’t run from the city, Andrew, if you want to run the city.”

Brent Staples (7/10) — He introduced gravitas, readability and concision to a chaotic debate. He was particularly potent when recounting his expertise as a public college pupil.

Howard Wolfson (7/10) — No main errors debating as a front-runner, and strongly wove biographical particulars into coverage solutions. Gave nearly as good as he received within the change with Yang, however spent method an excessive amount of time complaining to moderators about his lack of talking alternatives. No one needs a whining mayor.

Kathryn Wylde (9/10) — Adams served town in a bullet-proof vest for 22 years and may have used one on the talk stage. But he easily parried assaults from all quarters and confirmed himself a resilient front-runner.

Shaun Donovan

Shaun Donovan


Gerson Borrero (four/10) — For a dude with such a powerful résumé, together with having Obama to name-drop, Donovan as soon as once more fell quick. But at the least having his papi’s thousands and thousands to spice up his marketing campaign will cushion his continued fall.

Mara Gay (three/10) — He seemed like he had a pleasant tan, which is possibly one thing to look into.

Michelle Goldberg (5/10) — I’m nonetheless not fairly positive why he’s remaining within the race, although towards the top he had a very good riff on homelessness.

Christina Greer (four/10) — Donovan wanted to make a splash and he didn’t. Relationships with Biden and Obama (and Bloomberg, which he fails to say) haven’t translated into clear coverage proposals for New Yorkers.

Credit…WABC-TV and the New York City Campaign Finance Board

Celeste Katz Marston (6/10) — On the off likelihood anybody missed it within the final debate, he nonetheless used to work for Obama. Did a greater job this time of emphasizing his monitor document on housing. Not the gamechanger he wanted, although.

Eleanor Randolph (5/10) — He would make a wonderful deputy mayor. He is aware of the issues and has detailed plans to repair them.

Grace Rauh (5/10) — Fighting for consideration — and participating in budget-one-upmanship with Ray McGuire and Scott Stringer — however didn’t have memorable breakout moments.

Brent Staples (6/10) — Improved his efficiency over the past debate, properly hewing to coverage prescriptions — and reigning within the preachiness.

Howard Wolfson (7/10) — Like Stringer, Donovan got here again from a subpar efficiency in debate one to make a robust case for himself because the candidate with the monitor document of implementing daring concepts. But what’s a 15-minute neighborhood?

Kathryn Wylde (7/10) — The brainiac within the subject, he makes a convincing case that he’s nicely ready to run metropolis authorities. But is that sufficient?

Kathryn Garcia

Kathryn Garcia


Gerson Borrero (7/10) — A poised and assured Garcia continued to articulate her options for town’s present issues with what seems to be an affordable and smart plan.

Mara Gay (6/10) — It’s nonetheless clear that Garcia is a first-time candidate, however she was a lot better-prepared on this debate and it confirmed. “I invite anyone on this stage to talk about track records because I actually have one,” she quipped early on. She neatly held her personal with out attacking her opponents, which labored for her.

Michelle Goldberg (7/10) — No one handled her like a number one candidate, so nobody tore her down. She continues to exude down-to-earth competence.

Christina Greer (5/10) — There have been fairly a couple of occasions I forgot Garcia was onstage. Garcia wants to indicate voters she just isn’t solely certified however truly within the discussions pertaining to the right way to do the job as an government.

Credit…WABC-TV and the New York City Campaign Finance Board

Celeste Katz Marston (7/10) — Her important job was most likely to keep away from main missteps. She achieved that. Worked in mentions of her large newspaper endorsements; performed rigorously to girls voters. Steady, sensible, and by no means flashy — precisely on model for her marketing campaign.

Eleanor Randolph (7/10) — Held her personal in opposition to new critiques of her time as sanitation commissioner. She mentioned that through the worst Covid occasions, she was advised that when folks heard the rubbish truck, they knew issues could be OK.

Grace Rauh (6/10) — Moving up within the polls, however nonetheless not shining on the talk stage. Solid efficiency and factors for straight speak, like when she mentioned she’d increase the cap on constitution colleges after Adams ducked the query.

Brent Staples (6/10) — Clear, calm and particular in her solutions, particularly on public security and baby care. Made a robust rhetorical transfer when she requested voters to resolve which candidate they most belief.

Howard Wolfson (6/10) — Cornered the market on competency and managed to say her newspaper endorsements, however missed repeated alternatives to create breakout moments. Why query Stringer as a substitute of one of many different moderates? Why not discuss her multiracial household? It’s time to get private!

Kathryn Wylde (7/10) — Easy to consider she will be able to clear up issues and drive an agenda, however on this discussion board her ardour for attaining a “livable, healthier, safer city” didn’t come by.

Raymond J. McGuire

Raymond J. McGuire


Gerson Borrero (5/10) — The beginner in politics just isn’t going to complete within the prime three ranked-choice voting slots, however as soon as once more he confirmed he has a imaginative and prescient for a metropolis that wants extra new thinkers with artistic options.

Mara Gay (6/10) — Until just lately, McGuire has largely campaigned in corporate-speak. But when he talked about supporting undocumented immigrants Wednesday night time, he appeared like a metropolis mayor. “They’re New Yorkers,” he mentioned. “We need to respect them. We need to treat them with dignity.” He’s getting higher at this.

Michelle Goldberg (5/10) — He has much more administrative expertise than Yang, however his anti-politician schtick is even much less convincing.

Christina Greer (5/10) — McGuire introduced receipts however wanted to translate them for folks simply tuning in. What does his intensive Wall Street expertise imply for working-class New Yorkers? He wanted to put that out extra succinctly. Maybe they’ll received to his web site?

Credit…WABC-TV and the New York City Campaign Finance Board

Celeste Katz Marston (6/10) — Used his time to really inform voters in regards to the particulars of his platform (and web site). Probably didn’t catapult himself into the highest tier, however framed himself as severe and detail-oriented sufficient to benefit voters’ consideration.

Eleanor Randolph (7/10) — Finally displayed a few of the combat he will need to have proven within the again rooms of the company world. He even challenged the comptroller, Scott Stringer, about his oversight of town’s huge pension investments.

Grace Rauh (6/10) — At his greatest when making the case that New Yorkers want somebody with out authorities expertise to guide town. “I got receipts.”

Brent Staples (5/10) — He is caught on the unpersuasive metaphor of metropolis authorities because the rerun of a nasty film.

Howard Wolfson (four/10) — Gave a robust reply on schooling, however his complete unwillingness to really point out his tenure at Citi raises basic questions on why he’s on the stage. When the enterprise candidate can’t point out his enterprise, there’s a downside.

Kathryn Wylde (eight/10) — New to public service, he has mastered the info and give you new concepts for coping with our hardest points. Best line: “This is a bad movie playing out at City Hall with the same characters — we simply cannot afford a disastrous sequel.”

Dianne Morales

Dianne Morales


Gerson Borrero (5/10) — As a badly wounded first-time candidate, Morales caught to her marketing campaign platform and articulated the primary concepts of essentially the most progressive agenda on this main. Not distracted. Admirable.

Mara Gay (four/10) — Had a quiet night time. The implosion of her marketing campaign appeared to take the wind from her sails.

Michelle Goldberg (four/10) — There’s no method she may have saved her imploding marketing campaign, however she had no good reply for the accusations that her personal employees have leveled in opposition to her.

Christina Greer (6/10) — By far essentially the most conventional progressive candidate. She didn’t insert herself into discussions that many assumed she would or ought to lead on this debate. Curious to see if her base sticks together with her by this marketing campaign storm.

Credit…WABC-TV and the New York City Campaign Finance Board

Celeste Katz Marston (5/10) — Firmly stood her floor on the left flank of the progressive motion. Likely happy and held onto her left-leaning supporters, however didn’t essentially appeal to many new ones to her trigger or present further specifics on metropolis downside fixing.

Eleanor Randolph (four/10) — Has confronted a revolution from her personal marketing campaign employees in latest days. Countered that such issues weren’t unusual for managers like herself.

Grace Rauh (5/10) — Pulls again to debate the massive image on public security, linking the rise in crime to financial instability and housing and meals disaster many confronted throughout Covid. But the upheaval together with her marketing campaign employees remains to be a distraction.

Brent Staples (5/10) — Has a whole lot of work to do to persuade voters that her public security proscriptions are the suitable ones.

Howard Wolfson (four/10) — Facing questions on authenticity amid every week of inside marketing campaign strife, Morales appeared in poor health comfy and not sure of her footing.

Kathryn Wylde (three/10) — Her protection of her marketing campaign implosion — that employees rapidly grew at an enormous fee — means that her administration of a metropolis with greater than 330,000 workers could be a not-so-beautiful mess.

Scott M. Stringer

Scott M. Stringer


Gerson Borrero (6/10) — While he nonetheless appears to be like like he’s pondering, “I coulda been a contender!” Stringer carried out higher than a candidate who most specialists really feel has plateaued.

Mara Gay (7/10) — Stringer stayed centered, retaining the highlight on the housing, well being care and public schooling essentially the most weak New Yorkers want to reach an unequal metropolis. It was refreshing.

Michelle Goldberg (eight/10) — He was detailed and unflappable and had the night time’s most incisive jab at Yang: “You’re focusing on TikTok houses in the midst of a housing crisis.”

Christina Greer (7/10) — Landed fairly a couple of jabs and was positively on the offensive and rather more alert in contrast with the earlier debate. Stringer pushed his method into the highest tier throughout this debate.

Credit…WABC-TV and the New York City Campaign Finance Board

Celeste Katz Marston (7/10) — More engaged and aggressive than within the first debate; did a greater job explaining how he’d parlay his most related work expertise — serving as comptroller — into tackling the mayoralty.

Eleanor Randolph (6/10) — Went on the assault this time. At one level, he mentioned to Yang, “I actually don’t think you’re an empty vessel, I think you’re a Republican.”

Grace Rauh (7/10) — Do not rely Stringer out. He bounced again after a quiet first debate — seizing the highlight each time he may. Pitching himself as a progressive with expertise.

Brent Staples (5/10) — Competent however didn’t enhance his standing with voters who’ve doubts.

Howard Wolfson (eight/10) — A stable rebound from his lackluster efficiency within the first debate. Consistently on message because the progressive with the expertise to make change occur. A glimpse into what his marketing campaign may need seemed like earlier than it was derailed by sexual misconduct allegations.

Kathryn Wylde (7/10) — Showed his mastery of presidency and renewed confidence after a tough patch within the marketing campaign, making a robust case that he’s able to take care of the challenges going through town on day one.

Maya Wiley

Maya Wiley


Gerson Borrero (7/10) — Like a real neoyorquina working to catch the specific practice throughout rush hour, Wiley pushed her method by the group of wannabes and made house for her views in a transparent and at occasions vociferous method.

Mara Gay (5/10) — Could be extra concise.

Michelle Goldberg (6/10) — Wiley was eloquent on the scourge of police violence, however she usually appeared aloof from New Yorkers’ nervousness about surging violent crime.

Christina Greer (7/10) — The high quality of Wiley’s statements have been usually diluted by their extreme amount. I’m curious if voters simply tuning in to this debate (and this race) discovered her technique efficient or off-putting.

Credit…WABC-TV and the New York City Campaign Finance Board

Celeste Katz Marston (6/10) — In the primary debate, she got here off as commanding and difficult. In this rematch, her repeated interruptions and blowing off deadlines weren’t almost as efficient — and may have been seen as grandstanding, even for an completed public servant.

Eleanor Randolph (6/10) — She was the queen of extra time within the final debate, however remained largely inside her allotted segments for this one. She did handle to put out a stable progressive platform, noting that the police division is “bloated” and ought to share a few of its wealth with neighborhood facilities.

Grace Rauh (7/10) — TV savvy and it exhibits. Strong line of assault in opposition to Adams for saying he’d carry a gun as mayor. “Isn’t this the wrong message to send our kids we’re telling not to pick up the guns?”

Brent Staples (5/10) — She appears to have plateaued rhetorically. She misplaced floor by participating an excessive amount of within the assault scrum.

Howard Wolfson (6/10) — Came trying to attract Adams right into a one-on-one debate over prison justice, however was solely marginally profitable in doing so. She was a spectator to the Adams-Yang change and constantly spoke over her allotted time, which grew to become distracting.

Kathryn Wylde (6/10) — “I’m a mom” just isn’t a qualification for mayor. Not plausible that she would make public security job one, however exhibits she is an efficient listener in addition to an efficient talker.

Andrew Yang

Andrew Yang


Gerson Borrero (three/10) — Yang’s clearly getting worse at explaining how his lack of voting expertise in previous New York mayoral elections one way or the other makes him certified for the position of mayor. He was the plain loser on this debate.

Mara Gay (four/10) — Yang is often good on his ft, however Adams received underneath his pores and skin, and it confirmed. His change with Adams, who accused him of fleeing town, was cringeworthy. “I wore a bulletproof vest for 22 years,” Adams mentioned, slamming Yang — who left through the pandemic — as uncommitted to New York. Oof.

Michelle Goldberg (6/10) — The different candidates began out attacking Yang like he was nonetheless the front-runner and landed a number of blows. But he was in a position to rattle Eric Adams by citing his “rare trifecta of corruption investigations.”

Christina Greer (5/10) — Yang has not moved a lot past a diagnostic section. He understands a crowded debate format, however his insurance policies are Daisy Buchanan: smashing issues carelessly, retreating again into his moneyed folks and leaving it to others to scrub up his mess.

Credit…WABC-TV and the New York City Campaign Finance Board

Celeste Katz Marston (6/10) — Stayed the course, however not a breakout efficiency. Not clear if voters will hold warming to his folksiness or if he generally appears overly glib or lighthearted at a troubled time for town.

Eleanor Randolph (6/10) — Let criticism bounce off him like every professional politician. He famous that if he seemed quick, he was standing subsequent to Ray McGuire who’s 6’four.” He mentioned as a substitute of defunding police, New York wants a recruitment drive and extra connection to folks in communities — “They know who’s trouble.”

Grace Rauh (eight/10) — Came underneath frequent hearth — “empty vessel,” “Republican” — however didn’t get rattled. Saved his most brutal line for Adams: “You’ve achieved the rare trifecta of corruption investigations.”

Brent Staples (5/10) — The jokiness has worn skinny. He was shaken by predictable — and damaging — questions on his document.

Howard Wolfson (7/10) — Handled his sharp change with Adams nicely and calmly rebutted assaults from different candidates. Some voters could marvel the place the Happy Warrior went, although, watching him tear into Adams.

Kathryn Wylde (5/10) — Again with the goofy “Hello New York City” opener (this can be a mayoral debate, not “S.N.L.”) and ending with a shout out for a Knicks win. Does he take this race significantly?

About the authors

Gerson Borrero is the host and political editor of “Estudio DC” at HITN and a former editor in chief of El Diario Nueva York.

Mara Gay and Brent Staples are members of the editorial board of The New York Times.

Michelle Goldberg is a Times Opinion columnist.

Christina Greer is a political scientist at Fordham University.

Celeste Katz Marston is a longtime political reporter, a number for WBAI radio in New York and a co-author of “Is This Any Way to Vote? Vulnerable Voting Machines and the Mysterious Industry Behind Them.”

Eleanor Randolph is a former editorial board member of The Times and the creator of “The Many Lives of Michael Bloomberg.”

Grace Rauh is a former political reporter at NY1.

Howard Wolfson was a deputy mayor underneath Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, a senior adviser to Hillary Clinton’s Senate marketing campaign and the communications director for her first presidential marketing campaign.

Kathryn Wylde is the president and chief government of the Partnership for New York City.

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