(Bloomberg) -- Former Citigroup Inc. executive Ray McGuire is pleading with New York City business leaders to stay put rather than decamp to Florida or Texas as part of his bid to become the city’s next mayor.
The ex-banker’s appeal comes after some of the biggest names in finance -- from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to Virtu Financial Inc. -- are moving employees out of the city or opening offices in lower-cost locales like Jacksonville or Austin. McGuire said part of his campaign is focused on talking to New York City’s business executives to convince them to stay in the city.
“People are uncertain whether or not the leadership has the vision and the experience to carry this city forward and that’s what they’re looking for,” McGuire said Tuesday in an interview with Bloomberg Television. “I can speak the language of the streets and the suites, which is what’s going to be needed to bring this city together.”
McGuire left his role as vice chairman of Citigroup in October to run for mayor. He’s since raised more than $5 million for his campaign, with dozens of his former colleagues helping to bankroll his run.
Still, McGuire’s campaign has struggled to stand out among a crowded field of mayoral hopefuls. More than a dozen Democrats will compete in a June 22 primary that is expected to determine the general election winner in a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 6-to-1.
Only 2% of voters said they would vote for McGuire, according to a Feb. 10 poll conducted by Core Decision Analytics. That compares with 28% surveyed who said they would support former presidential contender Andrew Yang and 17% who back Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.
McGuire batted away the early polls. “It’s still very early,” McGuire said. “What we’re doing is getting out and talking to people.”
Read More: Ex-Citi Executive McGuire Gets Bankers’ Support in Mayor Bid
McGuire has tried to set himself apart from rivals by focusing on renewing the frayed ties with the city’s business community, promising to parlay his longtime connections into improving the city’s economy. He has pledged to partner with private investment firms for infrastructure projects and vowed to take on more debt while interest rates are low to help finance the city’s economic recovery.
He’s joining the mayoral fray as financial institutions consider moving some of their businesses out of NYC. Goldman Sachs is weighing plans for a new Florida hub to house one of its key divisions, Bloomberg reported in December. Virtu Financial Inc. is preparing to move some staff to the state, it said in January. Cantor Fitzgerald moved some operations jobs to Jacksonville later last year.
A former trustee of the New York City Police Foundation, McGuire recently debuted plans for restructuring the city’s sprawling police department. Instead of police responding to 911 calls that have to do with mental health or substance abuse problems, he’s called for a new emergency social services department to address those issues. He said the city needs a leader who can restore the relationship between the police and the community. “That’s been breached,” he said.
(Updates with moves by financial institutions in second, ninth paragraphs.)
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