Durkan was replaced by Bruce Harrell, whom Fox News called a “pro-police candidate.” And New York’s mayor is former police captain Eric Adams, a law-and-order guy along the lines of Mike Bloomberg and Rudy Giuliani in his sane days.
In Portland, left-wing excess let homeless encampments spread and trash pile up. The city is suffering economically and psychologically from the departure of the REI sporting goods store. REI cited thefts and break-ins in its decision to leave. Moderates are fighting back.
Before going on, let’s recognize that though most big cities are Democrat-run, those with Republicans in charge have problems as bad or worse. For all the handwringing over the crime surge in San Francisco, violent crime is worse in Miami, whose mayor, Francis Suarez, is a Republican candidate for president.
Nor are these cities as monolithically Democratic as many think. Giuliani and Bloomberg were elected mayor as Republicans. And San Francisco has the highest percentage of independent voters of any county in California.
In New York City’s outer boroughs, local officeholders are being challenged by candidates to their right who happen to be other Democrats. Public safety is a major issue.
One of the most interesting races involves Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz. Two years ago, Katz barely won the Democratic primary against lefty Tiffany Caban, who was endorsed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Bernie Sanders. Now Katz is being primaried by a Democrat who is accusing her (unfairly) of being soft on crime.
Ocasio-Cortez has not been endorsing candidates for city council of late, and, as it’s becoming clear, they don’t want her endorsement. As Jeff Leb, who runs super PACs that champion moderates, put it, “A lot of the luster of AOC’s endorsement has really gone out the window. The more she endorses candidates, and loses, it devalues her.”
The pandemic hurt cities in several ways, but those downward trends have begun to reverse. Tourist dollars disappeared for a while, but the visitors are returning even to troubled San Francisco. In New York, they’re back big time.
Downtown office towers may not soon enjoy their previous high occupancy rates, but more employers are calling their workers back to the office. Transforming some of these office spaces into residences could lower some high rents as well as repopulate business districts.
In the big cities, rare is the successful politician who rails against gay marriage. And anyone who portrayed drag queens as a threat to America would get laughed off the podium. There’s also no bashing of immigrants, who, in fact, make up a large part of the electorate.
Call them conservative liberals, if you want. They are really moderates. The cities need their pragmatism to keep the gears turning.
Actually, the country does as well.