These 2 NYC mayoral candidates have no idea what a house costs in Brooklyn

The most serious sin you can commit in American politics is to look (or be) out of touch with the people you are running to represent.

It’s quite literally the one thing you can’t do. Voters might be willing to overlook extramarital affairs or transparent ambition. But they will not forgive a politician who has no idea what the life of an average person is like.
Which brings me to the New York City mayoral race and two candidates in particular: Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and former Citigroup executive Ray McGuire. And in particular, to the interviews the two men gave to The New York Times editorial board in search of their endorsement. And even more specifically, to how the two answered this question asked of all the candidates running for mayor: “And just answer this to the best of your ability, obviously. What is the median sales price for a home or apartment in Brooklyn?”
    Here’s how McGuire answered it: “In Brooklyn, that number has gone up now. It depends on where in Brooklyn. … It’s got to be somewhere in the $ 80,000 to $ 90,000 range, if not higher.”
      And here’s Donovan’s answer: “In Brooklyn, huh? I don’t for sure. I would guess it is around $ 100,000.”

        The media home price in Brooklyn, as Mara Gay of the Times editorial board informed both men, is actually around $ 900,000.
          “All jokes aside: an entire generation of New Yorkers has been completely priced out of buying homes in their own communities,” tweeted Gay on Tuesday morning. “I think we help people most in need first (homeless, the working poor). But the inability of middle class to put down roots in NYC is a real problem.”
          Look. Neither Donovan nor McGuire were the frontrunner in this race before the housing flub. Former presidential candidate Andrew Yang is widely regarded as the favorite in advance of next month’s primary. (And he, not for nothing, nailed the Brooklyn housing question — guessing $ 900,000.) And the Times wound up endorsing former NYC Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia for the mayoral job.
          But still. If you are running to be the mayor of a city — even one as large as New York City — you have to have a working knowledge of things like how much a house costs in Brooklyn. I’d even be willing to give the candidates a few hundred thousand dollar wiggle room. But to think a house in Brooklyn costs $ 80,000 or even $ 100,000? Come on, man.
          That goes double (or triple) for Donovan, who not only served as the HUD Secretary under Obama but premised his entire campaign for mayor on that seminal experience. (Worth noting: Donovan emailed the Times after the editorial board interview to say that he was referring to the assessed value of homes in Brooklyn; “I really don’t think you can buy a house in Brooklyn today for that little,” he wrote.)
          And for McGuire, who is set to receive almost $ 6 million from Citigroup in payouts over the next few years, not knowing how much a home in Brooklyn costs (or even being in the ballpark) will affirm for many voters that he’s just another rich guy trying to buy his way into office.
          The gaffes by Donovan and McGuire on the Brooklyn home question will be added to a list of out-of-touch moments by politicians that has long been led by George H.W. Bush and his infamous amazement about how a grocery store scanner worked.
          During a visit to the National Grocers Association convention, this happened (as recounted by The New York Times):
          “He grabbed a quart of milk, a light bulb and a bag of candy and ran them over an electronic scanner. The look of wonder flickered across his face again as he saw the item and price registered on the cash register screen.
          “‘This is for checking out?’ asked Mr. Bush. ‘I just took a tour through the exhibits here,’ he told the grocers later. ‘Amazed by some of the technology.'”
          For Bush, who was running for a second term as president, his cluelessness was taken as a sign that he simply had been in politics and government too long. (There is some dispute over the veracity of the grocery scanner story.)
          Ditto Mitt Romney when he offered to make a $ 10,000 bet with former Texas Gov. Rick Perry during the 2012 Republican presidential primaries. Such a large bet was seen as proof-positive by many that Romney was truly the out-of-touch plutocrat that Democrats had painted him as. Of course, Romney went on to win the nomination that year, so his gaffe wasn’t determinative.
            Donovan and McGuire are also not likely to see their political fates decided by their bad misses on how much a house in Brooklyn costs. They weren’t likely to win before this and aren’t likely to win after it.
            But man, it looks bad.

            Comments are closed.