The Real Deal New York

Corey Johnson weighs mayoral run, refuses contributions from developers

Lobbyists, corporate PACs also on campaign's "no" list
By Kevin Sun | January 28, 2019 04:15PM

Corey Johnson rejecting cash (Credit: Getty Images)

He’s running.

New York City Council speaker Corey Johnson announced Monday morning that he is “thinking about” running for mayor in the 2021 election.

The campaign, which Johnson describes as “people-powered,” would reject contributions from real estate developers, lobbyists and corporate political action committees, as well as anyone employed by a developer or lobbyist. Additionally, the campaign will not accept contributions of greater than $250 from any individual.

Political contributions from the real estate industry have long been a significant, and controversial, factor in both city and state politics. During his campaign to become City Council Speaker in 2017, Johnson himself received more than $63,000 in campaign contributions from the industry — more than 12 percent of all funds received by the campaign.

In a past life, Johnson was employed by a real estate developer himself, serving as director of government relations and community affairs for GFI Development from 2008 to 2010.

This fact was used against Johnson by opponents in his previous campaign for City Council — not only because GFI is a real estate developer but because the company had made political contributions to opponents of same-sex marriage.

More recently, Johnson has clashed heads with developers in his role as City Council Speaker. In December, City Council filed a lawsuit against the city over Michael Stern’s controversial Two Bridges development, arguing that the city improperly fast-tracked the project by deeming it a “minor” modification.

And last week on Twitter, Johnson responded to news of Ken Griffin’s record-breaking $238 million penthouse buy by calling it “immoral,” and called for a pied-a-terre tax on luxury non-primary residences.

The 2021 election to replace Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has reached his two-term limit, is expected to consist of a wide field. Thanks to reforms introduced by de Blasio, the first $250 given to a campaign by a resident of New York City is now matched 8-to-1 by the city.

Bronx borough president Ruben Diaz Jr. is currently the sole officially-declared mayoral candidate. City comptroller Scott M. Stringer is also expected to begin fundraising for a campaign soon.