NEW YORK — There’s no question: Kathryn Garcia is new to campaigning.
She somewhat carefully approaches voters in the Staten Island Ferry terminal early Friday morning, handing them her palm card. On it, her endorsements from The Daily News and The New York Times are clearly visible.
“Thank you so much,” she said to a voter. “Hopefully, you vote for me number one.”
The pitch is cautious. But Garcia is rising in the polls. As her campaign gains momentum, we were wondering how exactly is she tailoring her message? Who exactly is a Kathryn Garcia voter?
What You Need To Know
- A recent poll found Kathryn Garcia does well with white voters
- But can the former sanitation commissioner broaden her support to win on Primary Day?
- We examined where she has been in the last month and who she is talking to
One New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) employee, where Garcia was once the temporary leader, approaches in the terminal.
“We worked for you at housing,” Carla Medrano says.
Medrano later tells us she will vote for Garcia.
“She was really, really great as our superior,” she says. “She got a lot to bring to the table, hopefully … If she brings it to NYCHA and turned NYCHA around, hopefully she’ll be able to turn the city around.”
Garcia has been reluctant on the trail to discuss exactly who her primary support is — who is her base of voters. A review of Garcia’s schedules for the month of May, from some of the final weeks of campaigning, shows her public events were focused on brownstone Brooklyn and Manhattan and less in Black and brown neighborhoods in Queens or in the Bronx.
Her campaign points out she was in these neighborhoods earlier on. Garcia says she is going everywhere.
“Today I think we are in Corona. We are in Brownsville,” Garcia told NY1 during the Friday morning rush. “We are on Staten Island. And I’ve been to southeast Queens, and in the Rockaways and out to Far Rockaway. I am planning to be across the city because I believe there are Garcia voters across the city.”
Garcia has secured the backing of a number of different sanitation unions; she used to lead the department.
So far, the elected officials or other leaders who have backed her campaign for first- or second-choice in ranked-choice voting are not a diverse crowd.
“So, I’ve not been a politician,” Garcia explains when we ask her about the lack of diversity among her supporters. “I have not been trying to curry favor with one group or another. I’ve been out serving them all across the city and that’s how we are campaigning.”
A recent poll found Garcia did well with white voters. Some observers say she has not made inroads in the Black community.
“When we think about the Harlem machine or the Brooklyn machine, those machines are with other candidates pretty strongly and clearly,” Fordham University Professor Christina Greer said.
Some observers and experts say Garcia will draw in a lot of public employees at the polls and appeal to a workforce she stood alongside for many years.
Whether she can build a coalition beyond that — one that is big enough to win — is unclear.
We do know her momentum is evident on the campaign trail. One man yells to her as she leaves the ferry terminal on Friday:
“We need a woman mayor,” he says from his car. “And I think Kathryn Garcia would be a good woman mayor.”
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