The Biggest Mayor’s Race in Years? New Yorkers’ Minds Are Elsewhere.

Sandra Wharton, a counselor who attended the service where Mr. Adams spoke, gave voice to those poll numbers. “I have not been thinking about the candidates because there are so many more serious things happening,” she said, even as she acknowledged this might not be the most civic-minded view. “It’s important, who we vote for, who we elect.”

In limited early polling of the race, Andrew Yang has seemingly emerged as the front-runner, with his 2020 presidential campaign giving him more name recognition than his rivals. Still, in one poll, half of likely Democratic voters were still undecided.

The candidates, after weeks or longer of straining against the constraints of Zoom events, have begun hitting the streets and returning to traditional retail campaigning as temperatures have warmed and vaccinations become more available. But on busy corners, outside borough halls and inside churches and other photogenic backdrops, they are regularly met with blank faces and wait-I-know-you-from-somewhere moments.

Vernon Dasher, 50, a train operator for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, leaned across his parked motorcycle outside Queens Borough Hall last week and watched a man whom he had first heard of only the day before attempt to make his case for mayor. The man, Raymond J. McGuire, a former executive at Citigroup, continued his pitch even as a nearby car alarm drowned him out.

“I didn’t even know it was an election year for the mayor,” Mr. Dasher said. He has been preoccupied, to put it mildly, “hoping that the city opens up.”

“Another way you could put that is: Covid,” he said.

Mr. Dasher said he’d love to sit out this election — “I keep saying, ‘I’m not voting no more,’ because I don’t want to do jury duty!” — but knows he must not. “I guess there is always that thought, ‘Maybe my vote will count.’” (Also, New Yorkers are summoned to jury service whether they vote or not.)


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