Corey Johnson drops out of mayoral race

Council speaker had pledged to reject donations from developers

TRD New York /
Sep.September 24, 2020 12:57 PM
Corey Johnson (Getty)

Corey Johnson (Getty)

UPDATED Sept. 24, 2020, 6:35 pm: City Council Speaker Corey Johnson announced Thursday that he no longer plans to run for mayor.

“Just as I was open about the fact that I was considering a run for mayor, I now want to be open about the fact that I have made the difficult decision not to run,” he said in a statement. “This challenging time has led me to rethink how I can best be of service to this city, and I have come to the conclusion that this is not the right path for me.”

He noted that he’s been experiencing depression over the last few months.

“I am sharing this because I know from experience the value of speaking honestly about one’s struggles,” he said in a statement. “I’ve been open about my sobriety, which along with my partner and mother, has been instrumental to me during this difficult time, and my HIV status. I believe it’s important to be open about this as well.”

He said his decision against running for mayor does not mark an end to his public life.

Johnson was not exactly a favorite in the real estate industry. He pledged to reject donations from developers and opposed Amazon’s planned headquarters in Long Island City. Most recently, he declined to help shepherd a proposal to rezone Industry City through the City Council. The development team on that project withdrew its application Tuesday night.

The speaker leaves behind a crowded race, with nearly a dozen mayoral hopefuls, although only two hold boroughwide or citywide office: Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and Comptroller Scott Stringer.

“I believe the major benefactor of Corey’s departure will be Scott,” said George Arzt, a publicist and political operative. “It throws the race a little more open than it was.”

Jay Martin, executive director of landlord group CHIP, agreed, although he put it more colorfully, suggesting that supporters of the cancel-rent movement who might have voted for Johnson may instead opt for Stringer, who has made stopping gentrification a theme of his campaign.

“Definitely clears the lunatic fringe for Stringer,” Martin said. “Real estate — but really anyone interested in pro jobs, pro housing, pro prosperity for all — is still waiting for a candidate to emerge.”

Earlier this month, Stringer officially launched his campaign, simultaneously announcing the endorsements of the state’s top progressives. He has already released what he’s dubbed a “universal affordable housing” plan, which would require a project with 10 units or more to set aside at least 25 percent as affordable. He’s also made ending “the gentrification industrial complex” and eliminating the 421a tax break pillars of his platform. Stringer has also indicated that he won’t accept campaign contributions from real estate.

Adams, who supported Industry City with some conditions during the land-use review process, has said he will continue to accept contributions from real estate. During a panel hosted by The Real Deal in May, he cautioned against condemning the industry.

“If we lose our real estate industry, it’s like Texas losing oil. That is the foundation of our city,” Adams said. “Now, we must make sure we’re responsible. We must make sure that we don’t have bad acting landlords that displace innocent tenants, but we must be clear that this is a city where we build.”

Citigroup executive Raymond McGuire is also reportedly considering running in 2021, as is Shaun Donovan, an alumnus of the Obama and Bloomberg administrations who served as commissioner of the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development and secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.






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