Mary L. Trump has had a busy year: writing a best-selling memoir about her family, suing for her inheritance and trying to prevent her uncle from winning a second term as president. Now she has turned her attention to the New York City mayor’s race.
Ms. Trump will host an online fund-raiser on Tuesday for Maya Wiley, the former MSNBC analyst and counsel for Mayor Bill de Blasio. Ms. Wiley is one of at least 10 Democratic candidates running for mayor next year, creating a mad scramble to raise money before the June 22 primary.
The friendship between Ms. Wiley and Ms. Trump, both liberal favorites with hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers, goes back to at least August, when Ms. Trump expressed support for Ms. Wiley in a tweet: “I truly hope you are NYC’s next mayor,” she wrote.
In late October, Ms. Trump held an online event to highlight President Trump’s failures and invited Ms. Wiley, along with other guests like Patti LuPone, the Broadway star. Ms. Trump and Ms. Wiley both supported President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.
Ms. Trump said in an interview that she had seen Ms. Wiley on MSNBC and was impressed. After her event, Ms. Trump asked how she could help with her mayoral bid.
“I think what I said was, ‘I’ll do whatever you need me to do,’” Ms. Trump said.
Ms. Trump, a clinical psychologist who announced her second book on “America’s national trauma” this week, said she was drawn to the historic nature of Ms. Wiley’s candidacy as a Black woman — New York has never had a female mayor — and her message of not just rebuilding the city after the pandemic, but reimagining it.
“At the heart of that is grappling with inequality and racial inequality,” Ms. Trump said. “Because of the way she talks about the issues and her grasp of them, I think she’s the person to do the best job.”
While New Yorkers flocked to the polls in November to vote against Mr. Trump, it is unclear how much, if at all, his presidency remains an issue in the mayor’s race. Ester Fuchs, a politics professor at Columbia University, said that Mr. Trump was unlikely to be a major factor in the primary because all of the Democratic candidates strongly opposed him, but that he could increase voter participation.
“It’s still so traumatic for New Yorkers,” she said of the Trump presidency, “that it will help with civic engagement and turnout in the mayoral race.”
As the city faces a troubling second wave of the coronavirus, nearly all of the candidates have moved to online fund-raisers. While the prospect of another video call might seem like a chore, a celebrity host can create a little excitement.
Ms. Wiley has scheduled online events with other prominent hosts, including Gloria Steinem, the feminist icon; Tom Colicchio, the celebrity chef; and V, the writer formerly known as Eve Ensler.
But at least one candidate, Eric L. Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, is holding in-person fund-raisers.
Mr. Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, was captured dining with donors at an Upper West Side restaurant by The Daily News. Democratic leaders in Brooklyn also faced a backlash after they were photographed mingling without face masks at a recent birthday party that Mr. Adams briefly attended.
His mayoral campaign said it had strict protocols to make sure his events were safe.
“Eric believes that all campaigns should follow the law and public health standards to prevent the spread of Covid-19 — and that is what the campaign has done,” his spokesman, Evan Thies, said. “If the state decides it is no longer safe for New Yorkers to frequent small businesses, the campaign will, of course, follow that rule as well.”
Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat in his second term, stopped short of saying in-person fund-raisers should be banned, but he urged candidates to exhibit caution.
“They have to be really, really careful and show people that they’re following the rules,” Mr. de Blasio said.
Ms. Wiley is holding a flood of online fund-raisers hosted by a range of Black scholars and liberal donors, including Kimberlé Crenshaw, a prominent professor at Columbia Law School; Gara LaMarche, the president of Democracy Alliance, a group of major liberal donors; Zachary Carter, the former corporation counsel for Mayor de Blasio; and Coraminita Mahr, a vice president of the powerful 1199 SEIU union.
Ms. Wiley’s greatest liability to voters may be the time she spent working for Mr. de Blasio, whose popularity has steadily diminished since he was first elected in 2013. She has sought to distance herself from him.
Ms. Trump, who lives on Long Island but grew up in New York City, understood Ms. Wiley’s predicament. Asked about the mayor’s weaknesses, she joked: “How much time do you have?” and then scoffed at his failed presidential bid.
Ms. Trump said Mr. de Blasio seemed like someone who did not know how to grapple with issues on the ground.
“I think Maya is a really grounded person who understands that we can’t just spout platitudes,” Ms. Trump said. “We have to do the work. That reason alone would make her a better mayor than de Blasio.”
The race has been reshaped by the pandemic as candidates try to prove who is best qualified to lead the city out of economic crisis. One such candidate is Raymond McGuire, a vice chairman at Citigroup, who quickly raised more than $2 million after entering the race in October.
Scott M. Stringer, the city comptroller, has cast himself as the most proven fiscal leader among the candidates, saying that he would “manage the hell out of this city.” He has also focused on securing endorsements from progressive leaders, including Jimmy Van Bramer, the City Council member who helped defeat the deal for an Amazon headquarters in Queens.
Mr. Stringer has a few celebrity backers of his own, including a $2,000 donation in June from Cynthia Germanotta, Lady Gaga’s mother, and an online fund-raiser this week by Danny Strong, a Hollywood producer, with tickets ranging from $25 to $250.
Mr. Stringer, whose mother died from the virus in April, is holding only online fund-raisers.
“The last time Comptroller Stringer held an indoor fund-raiser was in early March, before the quarantine period began, and will not do so again until it’s safe,” said Cameron Hellerman, a spokesman for his campaign.
Mr. Adams announced two of his own endorsements on Tuesday: Roxanne J. Persaud, a state senator, and Jaime R. Williams, a state assemblywoman, both women of color from Brooklyn.
When Mr. Adams’s deputy was photographed at an indoor birthday party last month without a mask, Mr. Adams said publicly that he accepted her apology. But he failed to mention that he also attended the party.
“Eric arrived at the party late, saw there was about 10 or 12 people there, said a quick happy birthday and left,” his spokesman said.