(Bloomberg) — More than 22,500 New Yorkers switched to the Democratic Party amid a $1.5 million campaign led by venture capitalist Lisa Blau to persuade Republicans and unaffiliated voters to register for the June mayoral primary.
Real estate and finance leaders in New York, including Blau’s husband Jeff, chief executive officer of Related Cos., are pushing to elect a moderate mayor to succeed Bill de Blasio.
With almost 70% of New York City’s voters registered as Democrats, the winner of the primary, typically a low-turnout affair, will likely by the city’s next mayor. Fewer than 700,000 Democrats voted in the 2013 mayoral primary.
Lisa Blau, whose Able Partners invested in companies such as Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop and the dating app Bumble, set up Be Counted NYC, targeting Republicans and independent voters to register as Democrats. She contributed at least $1.5 million to the group, according to state Board of Elections records.
Nearly 9,100 Republicans, 1,648 voters registered as “other” and 11,463 unaffiliated voters became Democrats between Jan. 1 and the Feb. 16 deadline to switch parties and be eligible to vote in the primary, according to the city’s elections board. An additional 345 switched from other affiliations. More than 2,200 Democrats, meanwhile, became Republicans.
“Be Counted NYC was created to make sure as many people as possible participate in this year’s mayoral election, which is critically important to the future of this City,” Blau said in a statement. “Our goal is to support civic engagement, every New Yorker should have a voice in this election and we encourage everyone who can to vote on June 22.”
Early Democratic front-runners include former U.S. presidential candidate Andrew Yang, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, and City Comptroller Scott Stringer. Former Citigroup executive Ray McGuire has drawn support from the business community.