“The world has changed, my fearless New Yorkers,” intones the narrator as a man in a gray hooded sweatshirt jogs through the heart of an empty Times Square. The voice, punctuated by a trumpet blast and snare drums, is none other than the filmmaker, Knicks’ fan and consummate New Yorker, Spike Lee. It’s his voice that introduces the newest entrant into the 2021 Democratic mayoral primary, former Citigroup vice chairman, Raymond McGuire.
As he guides the viewer through scenes of New York on the brink, facing a shrinking business and cultural landscape, Lee says it’s time for a candidate who can think big, “bring in every expert, call in every favor.” The highly produced video released late Tuesday marks the official start of McGuire’s mayoral campaign, entering an ever-growing field of Democratic candidates seeking to succeed Mayor Bill de Blasio when he is term-limited out of office next year.
The 63-year old McGuire, a Harvard grad who rose from an impoverished childhood in Dayton, Ohio to be one of the titans of the city’s financial services industry, leans into his success as a selling point for how he could help New York manage its financial recovery while reckoning with its systemic racial inequities as a Black man.
“Every New Yorker deserves a chance to get back in the game, and all of New York deserves a leader who can bring the city together and solve this crisis,” McGuire says, later paraphrasing a famous Muhammed Ali quote, telling those who dream of beating New York City, “you better wake up and apologize.”
If his launch video is any indication, McGuire’s campaign will be well-produced and well-funded. The former banking executive is not enrolled in the city’s public donor matching program, which will enable him to outraise and outspend his competitors who will be capped at $7.2 million in spending for the primary race.
That formula was a success for Michael Bloomberg, who entered the mayoral field in 2001 forgoing the public campaign finance program, outspending his competitors, and selling his business acumen as the solution for what ailed the city.
But McGuire faces a unique set of circumstances ahead of the June 2021 primary, which will feature the use of ranked choice voting, allowing voters to pick candidates in order of preference. While his business experience may appeal to a broader electorate, the city’s Democratic primary voters lean further left. He’s also pitching himself as a untraditional candidate, a lane occupied by more than one entrant in the 2021 field.
McGuire is scheduled to appear on the Brian Lehrer Show on Wednesday.