In July, Eric Adams narrowly won the Democratic nomination for mayor of New York, making him the odds-on favorite to win in November. And he won the nomination by running directly against the verities of today’s progressives: asserting that the police are the answer, not the problem; that “defund the police” misjudged what communities of color actually want; that Democrats had lost touch with the multiracial working-class voters they claim to represent.
Adams won on that message. He won in deep-blue New York City. It’s made him a national figure, and he’s been emphatic on what that means. “I am the face of the new Democratic Party,” he said. And “if the Democratic Party fails to recognize what we did here in New York, they’re going to have a problem in the midterm elections and they’re going to have a problem in the presidential election.”
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When politicians become national stories, they often release, or rerelease, a book. Adams is no exception. But instead of a campaign manifesto or an autobiography, “Healthy at Last” is a book about the health benefits of plant-based eating. “Outspoken vegan” isn’t a political identity I tend to associate with ambitious politicians at odds with the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, but that’s Adams for you. He doesn’t shy away from a fight.
In this conversation, Adams and I talk about the fights he is picking, or will have to pick, in the coming years: with progressives who he thinks have lost their way, with police unions he wants to reform, with wealthy communities where he wants to build more housing, with critics who think plant-based eating is a hobby for foodie elites and with voters who may not be willing to wait for Adams’s “upstream” approach to social problems to pay off.
You can listen to our whole conversation by following “The Ezra Klein Show” on Apple, Spotify, Google or wherever you get your podcasts. View a list of book recommendations from our guests here.
(A full transcript of the episode will be available midday on the Times website.)
“The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld; audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.