Report: Major Donors in NYC Mayor’s Race Made Little Difference

Report: Major Donors in NYC Mayor's Race Made Little Difference andrew yang walks into hotel Mayoral candidate Andrew Yang greets supporters at a Manhattan hotel as he concedes in his campaign for mayor on June 22, 2021, in New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

By Theodore Bunker | Thursday, 24 June 2021 02:20 PM

Many "megadonors" in New York City’s Democrat mayoral primary failed to get their money’s worth according to Politico, who found that some of the largest donations went to candidates who failed to get double-digit figures.

In total, political action committees spent almost $25 million on advertising in the race, including sizable contributions from megadonors Jeff Yass, Steve Cohen, and Dan Loeb, Politico reported.

Politico found that one group spent $6 million on advertising to support Shaun Donovan, though much of that came from the candidate’s father. Another group backing candidate Ray McGuire spent over $6 million on ads, consultants, and other campaign-related expenditures. Both of these candidates, who were running for the first time, ended up winning just over 2% of the vote each.

"Money doesn’t always equal votes," said Fordham University political science professor Christina Greer. "But it doesn’t hurt."

Eric Adams, the likely winner with a sizable lead over his competition as of Thursday afternoon, received the second-largest outside support from the group Strong Leadership NYC PAC largely based on his support for charter schools. Politico noted that several charter school-supporting billionaires made six-figure donations to the PAC, with $1.5 million coming from New York Mets owner Steven Cohen.

The group’s president, Jenny Sedlis, said that they focused on attracting the same groups that Adams was looking to win over: older Black voters and Latinos. They hired the video advertising agency Truxton Creative in Washington, D.C., as well as polling and focus groups to find the right messaging.

"Donors are going to want to know that you’re not lighting their money on fire," Sedlis said.

Andrew Yang, the former Democrat presidential candidate, appeared neck-and-neck with Adams in many polls leading up to the election, but conceded quickly once the votes began being counted. His campaign largely focused on ads that streamed online and were broadcast on cable, with the independent group Comeback PAC spending $3.2 million on ads for Yang.