He flew across the country last week to Los Angeles, where he spoke on a panel about “digital transformation.” In April, he went to Washington D.C. for the GridIron Dinner, a black-tie affair for political insiders. And in March, he made a one-day jaunt to Miami for a cryptocurrency conference followed by trips to Chicago and New Orleans to talk about public safety.

Four months into office, Mayor Eric Adams has embraced a rising national profile with several notable trips outside New York City. In the mayor’s words, his travel is all part of the job as an ambassador for the city.

"I'm going to criss-cross the globe and show people our product," he told reporters last week.

But his penchant for leaving town has lately spurred accusations that he is absent too often during a critical period in the city’s recovery. COVID-19 cases continue to rise—the city officially entered a higher risk level last week—and a continued string of high-profile crimes have made for concerning headlines.

The criticism has put the mayor on the defensive. On Monday, Adams himself referred to the scrutiny during an appearance with London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who is visiting New York City in part to promote tourism to his city.

“You know, here in New York when I leave the city, they criticize me,” he said to Khan. “Probably in London, they encourage you to explore.”

He then added, “If you are a mayor that only stands on your block, you're not going to solve the problems of the globe.”

Voters want to get to know our mayors before they take advantage of the national platform that all mayors have access to.
Basil Smikle, political scientist at Hunter College’s public policy program

But experts said the mayor’s travels have become a political liability.

“He's made high-profile trips when voters are still uncertain about his leadership style and priorities,” said Basil Smikle, a political scientist who directs Hunter College’s public policy program. “Voters want to get to know our mayors before they take advantage of the national platform that all mayors have access to.”

The focus on his travels intensified following Adams’ visit to LA. Initially planned as a two-day trip paid for by his campaign, the mayor was forced to spend an extra day away from City Hall after his flight was canceled. When he returned, he faced questions about a newly released Quinnipiac poll that found his job approval rating had slipped to 43% after receiving 46% in a February survey.

"Mayor Adams gets a positive score on his job performance, but it's tepid,” said Mary Snow, Quinnipiac analyst said in the press release. “The biggest weight on his numbers: crime. It's by far the most urgent issue and voters are holding him accountable.”

Previous mayors have been criticized for spending time outside the city. Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s weekend trips to Bermuda—and his refusal to confirm them—were often the subject of media attention.

Adams’ predecessor, Mayor Bill de Blasio, was mocked as a “missing resident” when he campaigned for president in early primary states in 2019.

Smikle argued that for Adams, who campaigned as a working-class candidate, the flashy trips to Miami and LA can be particularly damaging to his relationship with his base.

“He risks diminishing the working-class brand he campaigned on especially at a time of anxiety among voters and fatigue from de Blasio’s travels for his presidential ambitions,” he said.

Before leaving for LA, Adams attended the Met Gala, a glitzy fashion fundraising event in Manhattan. His presence on the red carpet has earned him scorn from critics.

“I didn’t go to a Met Gala until I got the city under control,” former Republican Mayor Rudy Giuliani told The Post.

“People should stop inviting him to events,” he told the outlet. “Adams should be at City Hall and Gracie Mansion implementing plans that should have been implemented months ago.”

Curtis Sliwa, Adams’ Republican opponent in the general election last year, has also savaged the mayor. He noted that the mayor’s trip to L.A. included attending a party with comedian Dave Chapelle.

On Monday, Adams doubled down on his decision to travel. He disputed the notion that a mayor needs to be tethered to City Hall, arguing that he delegates the day-to-day responsibilities of running a city to his commissioners.

“So if the only way our city can function is if I'm physically here and not learning what other mayors are doing, then we're in real trouble,” he said. “That's not leadership.”