In big-city mayoral elections, attracting enough votes to win apparently matters.
In city after city, Democrats who previously heeded Black Lives Matter’s calls to "defund the police" by reducing law enforcement budgets or reallocating police funds to other uses are now stressing crackdowns on crime as Election Day nears, The Washington Post reported Saturday.
"Mayors aren’t stupid, and they understand if taxpaying residents of their city start leaving, as they did in the 1970s, the whole city is endangered," Ned Hill, an Ohio State professor who studies city politics, told the newspaper.
"Mayors aren’t stupid, and they understand if taxpaying residents of their city start leaving, as they did in the 1970s, the whole city is endangered."
Debates on addressing lawlessness are also taking place in cities without competitive elections, the report said.
The Democrats in cities such as New York City, Buffalo, Cleveland and Seattle may simply be reacting to the data, according to the Post, which cited last week’s Pew Research Center poll that showed 47% of Americans want police to receive more funding, not less.
That figure was up from 31% last June, amid racial justice protests, the Post reported.
U.S. cities saw killings rise by 30% in 2020 – representing the largest single-year spike since the federal government began tracking the information in the 1960s, the newspaper reported.
Perhaps reflecting the shift in voter sentiment, New York City’s Democratic mayoral nominee, Eric Adams, is a former NYPD captain, while GOP nominee Curtis Sliwa is a longtime anti-crime civic activist.
Even progressives are making adjustments, according to the Post.
In Buffalo, far-left mayoral candidate India Walton – a community activist backed by U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. – now emphasizes better police accountability and roles for mental health professionals in reducing crime rather than her previous calls for defunding police and profanity-laced shouting during anti-police protests, the Post reported.
Nevertheless, Walton is trailing Byron Brown, Bufffalo's incumbent Democrat mayor, by 17 points in a recent poll despite having defeated Brown in a June primary. Brown is now trying to retain his office as a write-in candidate.
"Mayoral candidates are being compelled to respond to realities on the ground," Bruce Katz, director of the Nowak Metro Finance Lab at Drexel University, told the Post.
"Mayoral candidates are being compelled to respond to realities on the ground."
In Portland, Oregon, which last year saw a string of more than 100 days and nights of civil unrest, even Democrat Mayor Ted Wheeler – who was reelected last year -- has changed his view of some issues regarding law enforcement.
In September, Wheeler admitted that a "hands off" approach to policing for an August clash of opposing protesters was "not the right strategy," Fox News previously reported.
But low police morale resulting from last year’s the "defund the police" movement has been blamed for Portland’s struggle to recruit officers for its resurrected gun violence unit.
Last week Portland police Chief Chuck Lovell stressed the importance of staffing the unit after the city saw 19 shootings over a 54-hour period.