With the primary weeks away, candidates are sharpening their attacks, ramping up in-person events and preparing to spend the millions of dollars that they have stockpiled. It was opening day for Coney Island’s famed amusement parks, long shuttered during the pandemic, and Andrew Yang — the 2020 presidential candidate who has shifted his personality-driven campaign to the New York City mayoral race — was in his element.
“Coney Island is open for business!” he declared on Friday, pumping his fists as he made his way down a windswept boardwalk. “New York City! Can you feel it?” What it felt like was a campaign event, and Mr. Yang was not the only mayoral candidate to take advantage. Scott M. Stringer, the city comptroller, mingled along the midway, playing games with his family; Kathryn Garcia, the former sanitation commissioner, rode bumper cars and visited small businesses.
New York faces immense challenges on the road to recovery from the pandemic. Thousands of deaths, economic devastation, rising violent crime and deep racial and socioeconomic inequality complicate the city’s path forward at every turn, making the upcoming mayor’s race the most consequential city contest in at least two decades. Now, as the city slowly comes back to life amid warmer weather and coronavirus vaccinations, the race is entering a new, increasingly vigorous phase. After months of conducting virtual fund-raisers and participating in an endless round of online mayoral forums, candidates are sharpening their attacks, ramping up their in-person campaign schedules and preparing to spend the millions of dollars that several contenders have stockpiled but few have spent on public advertising.
About 10 weeks before the June 22 Democratic primary that is likely to determine the next mayor, four candidates currently make up the top tier of contenders, according to available polling and interviews with elected officials and party strategists. There is Mr. Yang, the undisputed poll leader; Eric Adams, the Brooklyn borough president; Mr. Stringer; and Maya D. Wiley, a former counsel to Mayor Bill de Blasio and a former MSNBC analyst. But the race appears fluid enough for a candidate to break out late like Mr. de Blasio did in 2013, with many undecided voters only now beginning to consider the race, according to interviews with New York Democrats across the city and some polling data.