In the span of three months, "Amazon" became such a dirty word among New York City politicians that many of the candidates for Public Advocate seemed ashamed and embarrassed at our debate last week when asked if they'd ever used the online retailer.
So it was no surprise that when Amazon backed out of the deal Thursday, the typical response among the field of candidates was to cheer.
Assemblyman Ron Kim was such a staunch opponent, when candidates had to make up their own ballot line to run on in this non-partisan special election, Kim chose "No Amazon."
Like several other candidates, he called the collapse of the deal a win for grassroots activism, proof of democracy at work.
"When people are upset at big corporations coming in and demanding billions of dollars of our taxpayers' money and people are pushing back, we can actually come to a positive outcome," Kim said.
Assemblyman Michael Blake had a more measured response. Though he blamed Amazon for the deal's shortcomings, he lamented the loss of what he called a potential economic game-changer.
"What do you say to the people that have been waiting for a job, that have waiting for justice, that have been waiting for wages? Now you're essentially saying to them you have to wait a little bit longer," Blake said.
One candidate in the race, meanwhile, stands apart, far apart. Councilman Eric Ulrich was a vocal supporter of the deal from the start, and said, "This is a tremendous loss for all New Yorkers."
That’s a position that may actually benefit him in this race, if polls showing widespread public support for the deal are to be believed.
"I was supporting Amazon not because the polls told me it was the right thing to do, but because common sense told me that bringing 25,000 good-paying jobs to the city of New York was going to be a great idea," Ulrich said.
In conjunction with the city's Campaign Finance Board, Politico New York, and a wide array of co-sponsors, NY1 will host a live debate with leading contenders in the race for Public Advocate on February 20 at the Borough of Manhattan Community College.