NEW YORK — Rep. Yvette Clarke, who represents parts of Central Brooklyn and a large Black electorate, endorsed Maya Wiley for mayor Friday afternoon.
"It's a coalition that wins New York City," Clarke said.
It’s the second congressional endorsement for Wiley, whose campaign has struggled to gain traction in early polls. Last month, Rep. Nydia Velázquez endorsed her campaign.
"I'm going to be campaigning hard, each and every day," Clarke said. "Via zoom, on the street wherever I need to be, to make sure that Maya Wiley is the next mayor of the city of New York."
Wiley, who formerly served as Mayor Bill de Blasio’s chief counsel, has sought to energize progressive voters around issues of racial inequality, pandemic recovery and police reform. Wiley is one of three women seeking the Democratic nomination ahead of the June primary. If elected mayor, she would become New York city’s first woman mayor and the second Black person to lead City Hall.
“Symbolism is not enough, calling us queens is not enough," Wiley said. "Recognizing that we are qualified is what we demand."
Clarke has been in Congress since 2007. Her support of Wiley could be seen as a blow to Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, although he’s been appealing to more moderate Democrats in other parts of the city, while Clarke’s district has seen significant demographic changes in recent years reflecting a more progressive voting bloc.
"I felt it was important that we change the status quo, that we look at this as a new beginning, not only in our nation but in our town," Clarke said. "I thought it would be extraordinary for our city to embrace a Black woman, not just any Black woman, it's Maya Wiley."
Consolidating support in Brooklyn would be significant for any candidate. Brooklyn is the most populous borough and primary turnouts are relatively high.
Clarke’s endorsement could help Wiley shore up support among Black voters, she was recently endorsed by Local 1199-SEIU, one of the city’s largest unions representing health care workers who are majority Black and brown.