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NEW YORK – Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez backed Maya Wiley as Mayor on Saturday – one of the most momentous individual nods in the race to date and one that is likely to further cement progressive support for Wiley as her rivals on the left are in crisis in their own campaigns face.
“Maya Wiley grew up in the movement. She grew up with it, ”said Ocasio-Cortez during a rally in front of the town hall on Saturday. “We have a field of candidates and the stakes can’t be higher here either … I’m putting Maya on number one.”
Ocasio-Cortez’s support comes just a week before the early voting starts and roughly two weeks before the June 22nd primary. The nod comes when City Comptroller Scott Stringer faces a second woman who accuses him of sexual misconduct and when Dianne Morales survives a staff revolt in her campaign.
Wiley has battled for progressive set-up with Stringer and Morales but struggled to gain momentum all year round. Stringer, a professional politician, had a long cultivated base of support, and Morales emerged as an uncompromising leftist, vowing to cut the NYPD budget in half.
Wiley is the daughter of civil rights activist George Wiley, whom she and her brother saw drowned at the age of nine. She then became an attorney in the civil division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan and later worked for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the American Civil Liberties Union before joining Mayor Bill de Blasio’s lawyer in 2014.
Wiley left the administration during the mayor’s first term and headed the city’s police station, the Civilian Complaint Review Board. She also worked as a legal analyst for MSNBC before entering the mayor’s race.
Saturday’s endorsement followed an Ocasio-Cortez rally headlined for other city candidates denouncing the role of big money in city politics. Democratic front runners Eric Adams and Andrew Yang, who have run more conservative campaigns, both have super PACs increasing their offerings, partly funded by wealthy donors like Jeff Yass, Daniel Loeb and Kenneth Griffin.
“There’s a lot of dark money in the New York City elections, bottom-up,” said Ocasio-Cortez. “In the mayoral election alone, the Super PACs spent over $ 16 million.”
Wiley himself is expected to receive $ 1 million from an outside PAC, partially funded by George Soros.
Ocasio-Cortez said she was not concerned about the state of progressive politics in New York when asked about a split in support for leftist candidates.
“This discourse and the robustness of this discourse and debate actually means the strength of the progressive movement in New York City,” she said. “The fact that we had so many candidates with such strong progressive priorities and platforms is a good thing.”
But, she added, now the left has to unite with less than three weeks before the primary.
“We should worry if we don’t get together,” she said. “It’s not just about what [candidate] – What we often see is this rhetoric about security, the police strategies that are not evidence based really doubled and tripled to fight crime. “
Adams, a former NYPD captain and the current president of Brooklyn borough, has put himself on a platform to curb the city’s recent surge in crime and wasted no time criticizing the endorsement.
“Representative. Ocasio-Cortez and Maya Wiley want to slash the police department’s budget and shrink the police force at a time when black and brown babies are shot on our streets, hate crimes terrorize Asian and Jewish communities, and innocent New Yorkers are stabbed to death and on their way to work shot, ”he said in a statement. “They put slogans and politics before public safety and would endanger the lives of New Yorkers.”
Shortly after Ocasio-Cortez’s announcement, Rep. Jamaal Bowman, who previously supported Stringer, announced that he would also support Wiley.
“The next New York City Mayor has to be a progressive fighter willing to reinvent a New York that works for every single community.” he tweeted. “As an educator, husband and father of three children, I am honored to have Maya Wiley our next mayor.”
Jumaane Williams, who is expected to easily win another tenure as the city’s public attorney, was present at the rally on Saturday and is another key supporter but did not reveal who he supports for mayor’s office.