Jessica Ramos Slams Mayor Adams, Leaves Door Open for 2025 Primary Challenge

Queens state senator criticizes Eric Adams’ handling of the migrant crisis and his cuts to public school funding while touting her work to bring unionized Green New Deal jobs to NYC.

John Tarleton Aug 24, 2023

Eric Adams looks beatable to many progressives who have watched him stumble through an ineffective first term as New York City mayor. But who will actually step up and challenge the man who will have all the advantages of incumbency on his side in 2025? As the old saying goes, you can’t beat somebody with nobody. 

In May, The Indypendent cited Queens State Senator Jessica Ramos as one of seven progressives to watch for as a potential Adams challenger. More recently, The New York Times  reported that Ramos’ name was bandied about at an informal summit in July of progressive movers and shakers who are looking to rally around a strong challenger early in the campaign cycle. 

Ramos’s criticisms previewed some potent attack lines she could use if she challenges Adams in 2025.  

Ramos, 38, is the New York City-born daughter of immigrant parents from Colombia. She is a former district leader, community-board member and union staffer who also served as Bill de Blasio’s director of outreach to Latino media. She vaulted into the State Senate in 2018, knocking off a 16-year incumbent legislator. Her arrival in Albany coincided with the Democrats taking control of the State Senate for the first time in more than 50 years and passing a raft of progressive legislation. 

In a wide-ranging interview for this week’s edition of The Indypendent News Hour on WBAI-99.5 FM, Ramos offered a glimpse into what kind of candidate she might be. There’s Ramos, the policy wonk talking about seeding renewable energy supply chains in New York and ensuring they provide good union jobs. There’s Ramos, the neighborhood-based politician describing how climate change has impacted various immigrant communities in her district. There’s Ramos, the former de Blasio aide and mother of two school-age children (in contrast to Adams’ penchant for slashing public school funding, Ramos’ was involved with de Blasio’s successful pre-K rollout). And, there’s Ramos, the feisty campaigner who isn’t afraid to go on the attack and can land a punch while still smiling. 

“Less swagger and more work!” She demanded with a laugh when asked about the mayor’s celebrity lifestyle. 

Assuming Ramos wants the job, there’s a number of hurdles she would have to clear to launch a credible challenge to a sitting mayor. Could she raise enough money? Could she consolidate the support of the Working Families Party and other progressive groups? Are there other higher profile progressives who might enter the race? Would her union allies support her, or would they back the incumbent as unions usually do? Can she patch up her seemingly pointless rift with her congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez? Would her old boss Bill de Blasio back her after working behind the scenes to help Adams in 2021? Is she ready for the unrelenting media scrutiny that comes with running for mayor in New York?

Listen to our full interview with State Senator Jessica Ramos.

Nonetheless, the logic for a Ramos candidacy is pretty straightforward. There is a void waiting to be filled to the left of Adams, former Republican and police captain who is the New York Post’s darling. If Ramos — or any other compelling progressive candidate — enters the race, there’s a large baked-in bloc of progressive voters that will move toward them. If that challenger happens to be a charismatic, millennial Latina with a history of service in city and state government, and close ties with the labor movement, you could do far worse. 

Think of Brandon Johnson, who started at 3% in this year’s Chicago mayoral primary, and turned out to be a great candidate who galvanized the public’s desire to turn the page on a stale political establishment. If more than one progressive candidate enters the race, they can use New York City’s ranked-choice voting system to form a united front to support each other at Adams’ expense.

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