Scott Stringer’s campaign for mayor is in a state of crisis after a former campaign worker claimed Stringer sexually assaulted her 20 years ago.
Despite his denials, a flurry of influential progressive figures and organizations have withdrawn their support and, meanwhile, others involved in city politics have come forward with stories painting the city’s comptroller as a vindictive bully – making his quest for the Democratic party’s nomination much more difficult.
On Saturday, City Council Members Mark Levine and Diana Ayala, Assembly Member Carmen De La Rosa, state Sen. Jose Serrano and Rep. Adriano Espaillat put out a joint statement rescinding their endorsements. The day prior, Stringer lost the support of the Working Families Party and a group of lawmakers whose early backing had cemented Stringer’s standing as a progressive in the race. The group included: state Sens. Alessandra Biaggi, Julia Salazar, and Gustavo Rivera; Assembly Members Yuh-Line Niou and Catalina Cruz; and Rep. Jamaal Bowman.
“Look, you win some, you lose some. You have old friends — now you got to make new friends,” he told reporters in response to the loss of endorsements Sunday while visiting a church in Brooklyn. “So I’m out campaigning and running for mayor.”
Stringer’s political fallout began last Wednesday when Jean Kim, who works as a lobbyist, came forward with allegations that while she worked as a volunteer on his campaign for public advocate in 2001, Stringer kissed and groped her without consent.
Stringer has strongly denied Kim’s claims. He says the two shared a brief, consensual relationship for several months during that time period and continued to be friends until 2013, when he said he didn’t hire her to work on his campaign for comptroller.
His denials have not been enough to maintain most of his support among elected officials, and over the weekend, the endorsement page on Stringer’s campaign website was taken down. In a statement, the New York chapter of the Working Families Party stressed its continued support for Dianne Morales and Maya Wiley, whom the party had originally endorsed as its second- and third-choice candidates in the mayor’s race, respectively.
“We approached this moment with the deliberate reflection, discussion, and input from members and leaders across the party that it required. Jean Kim shared her experience of sexual assault and Scott Stringer failed to acknowledge and consider his responsibility for that harm,” Sochie Nnaemeka, the party’s state director, said in a statement. “We are enthusiastically reiterating support for our other endorsed candidates, Dianne Morales and Maya Wiley. The New York Working Families Party will be forging forward in the critical weeks ahead to ensure one of these fearless, bold women is the next Mayor of New York.”
Wiley and Morales, among several other opposing mayoral candidates, have called on Stringer to drop out of the race altogether.
But not all supporters are jumping ship. The United Federation of Teachers, one of the city’s most influential labor unions, has not rescinded its endorsement. Rep. Jerry Nadler is also standing by his endorsement of Stringer.
“I have known Scott to be a man of enduring character and integrity,” Nadler told Politico. “Scott has clearly stated that there is no basis to these allegations, and I continue to support his candidacy.”
Meanwhile, following Kim’s accusation, several elected officials and individuals involved in city politics made their own allegations, painting Stringer as an intimidating figure who can be vindictive. Council Members Helen Rosenthal and Ben Kallos both shared their own run-ins with Stringer on Twitter.
Rosenthal, who represents District 6 on the Upper West Side, said she’s “been on the receiving end of one of his crude vengeful actions.” She claimed Stringer threatened not to work with organizations that supported Rosenthal in her bid for Council.
“Several years ago, the political director one of the groups who endorsed me admitted that after that endorsement she was on the receiving end of a tongue lashing she had never experienced before,” Rosenthal, who backed Wiley for mayor, said in a tweet. “She said that [Stringer] refused to ever work with that group again.”
Kallos, who represents the Upper East Side and is running for Manhattan Borough President, said that in 2017, Stringer tried to bully him out of pursuing campaign finance reform.
“Scott Stringer threatened me, told me not to move forward with the reform I had run for office to achieve,” Kallos wrote in a series of tweets. “When I said no, Scott Stringer cursed at me. He told me he’s never liked me, and said he would do everything in his power to stop me, that he would endorse against me, and that I would never be borough president.”
To this day, Kallos said, Stringer avoids greeting him and curses at him if he thinks he can get away with it.
“Scott Stringer should not be Mayor, let alone Comptroller. The last thing New York City needs is our own Cuomo,” said Kallos.
A spokesperson for Stringer did not immediately respond to a request for comment in regard to Kallos and Rosenthal’s claims.
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