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Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez walks after speaking during a press conference to re-introduce the Green New Deal in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on April 20, 2021. She has urged New York City voters to back mayoral candidate Maya Wiley in the upcoming primary race.MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, one of the most prominent left-wing leaders in the country, on Saturday endorsed Maya Wiley in the race for New York City mayor, urging voters to “come together as a movement.”

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s endorsement represents the most significant development yet in left-wing efforts to shape the June 22 Democratic primary that is almost certain to determine the city’s next mayor. Ms. Wiley, a civil rights lawyer and former counsel to Mayor Bill de Blasio, appeared alongside Ms. Ocasio-Cortez outside City Hall in Manhattan.

“If we don’t come together as a movement, we will get a New York City built by and for billionaires, and we need a city by and for working people,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said. “So we will vote for Maya No. 1.”

For months, it was unclear whether Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, 31, would use her platform to influence the mayor’s race. Her backing could cement Ms. Wiley as the liberal standard-bearer in the contest and signal a new measure of viability around her campaign.

The endorsement may also provide a boost to the left wing of the Democratic Party, which, despite significant recent victories at the congressional and state legislative levels, seemed to be at a disadvantage in the mayor’s race.

Many left-wing activists and leaders have been divided over how to approach the mayor’s race. Some backed Ms. Wiley; others supported Scott Stringer, the city comptroller, or Dianne Morales, a former nonprofit executive. But in recent weeks, Mr. Stringer and Morales have struggled with controversies, and some of their backers have rescinded their endorsements.

Still, according to the sparse public polling available, Eric Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, Andrew Yang, a former presidential candidate, and Kathryn Garcia, the former sanitation commissioner, seem to be in the front of the field, and all of them fall on the more moderate side of the New York City political spectrum on issues such as policing and dealings with the business community.

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