NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It’s down to the wire in the New York City mayoral race.
Democrat Eric Adams and Republican Curtis Sliwa barnstormed the five boroughs on Monday, holding get-out-the-vote rallies and trying to drum up enthusiasm after early voting produced an anemic response.
Since an alarmingly low number of city residents took advantage of early voting — about 3.4%, about 1 in 30 people — it seems like the candidates are willing to do almost anything to grab the attention of voters. Adams held rallies all over the city, and Sliwa made a surprising and provocative campaign promise.
Hats off to Sliwa. The mayoral contender made a decidedly unusual campaign promise before voters go to the polls Tuesday to choose a new chief executive.
“If I’m lucky enough to become mayor, the beret goes,” Sliwa said.
READ MORE: Candidate Conversations: Curtis Sliwa
Since Sliwa has worn the red beret for 42 years — since founding the Guardian Angels in 1979 — it was a stunning example of how serious he is about moving to Gracie Mansion. To prove it, he took off the beret and showed that the trademark cap has been hiding the fact that he is somewhat challenged in the hair department.
“If the people elect me mayor, I can’t be wearing the red beret because people will think, is that Hugo Chavez?” Sliwa said.
Sliwa, a Republican in a city with a 7-to-1 Democratic enrollment, is apparently hoping to gain support from his opposition to the vaccine mandate imposed by Mayor Bill de Blasio. His first stop on a 24-hour whirlwind day, which included an appearance with former Gov. George Pataki, was outside a fire house.
There, he slammed Adams for not trying to stop the mayor from imposing the vaccine mandate of first responders.
“He staunchly stands there in support of Bill de Blasio,” Sliwa said, adding at a later rally in Borough Park, Brooklyn, “When it comes to these mandates, Jan. 2, if I’m elected mayor of the city of New York, these mandates go.”
He also took a shot at Adams’ record as leader of Brooklyn, CBS2’s Dick Brennan reported.
“Are you better off after eight years of Eric Adams as borough president? I can’t find anybody to say so,” Sliwa said.
Adams held a number of get-out-the-vote rallies around the city, including one in City Hall Park with members of several labor unions, who have endorsed him.
READ MORE: Candidate Conversations: Eric Adams
He made his key pitch the life he’s led, as the dyslexic child of a single mother who experienced being arrested and the possibility of being homeless. He said that makes him uniquely able to deliver for New Yorkers.
“The reason people are energized by this movement is because they see in me the life I live is the life they’re living, and if we are committed and dedicated to each other these hurdles are not insurmountable,” Adams said.
“So Eric becoming mayor is stating that a dish washer can become a mayor,” he added.
Adams was also asked about the vaccine mandate and criticized Sliwa for trying to use it as a campaign issue to get votes.
“When you talk about public safety, fire and police to be hurling things from the sidelines when neither one of us is mayor, that’s irresponsible,” Adams said.
Adams has managed to walk a fine line with a moderate message despite increasingly vocal progressives, and so far it has worked, according to political consultant Hank Sheinkopf.
“Should Adams become the mayor, he will be a national Democratic figure. Why? He’s an African-American. He’s blue collar. He’s in the center. He’s an ex cop and he has talked about reducing crime without reducing police, pretty significant facts. Progressives are not gonna like him,” Sheinkopf said.
Brennan asked Adams if he thinks he will have less-than-enthusiastic support from progressive voters.
“I spoke to voters. In life you are supposed to do the work, and the work will speak for itself. I did the work and now it’s up to New Yorkers to do the rest,” Adams said.
Adams pledged that if he is elected mayor the partisan politics would end and that everyone would be wearing jerseys that read “Team New York.”
CBS2’s Dick Brennan contributed to this report.