“He doesn’t know a thing about the city government,” Mr. Ravitch said, preceding “thing” with an expletive, before adding: “Do I think Ray would be the best of the candidates? Yes.”
Gale Brewer, the Manhattan borough president and another government long-timer with whom Mr. McGuire has spoken, said diplomatically that there was only so much she could convey in a phone call.
“It’s a hard city,” she said.
Mr. McGuire has said that voters should prize executive experience over government résumés. On this score, some former colleagues at Citi report mixed returns. In interviews, they appraised Mr. McGuire as an approachable leader and willing mentor, particularly to younger Black talent, but also as an image-conscious manager who could struggle with indecision if a looming choice seemed destined to upset someone.
Allies have framed such qualities as an instinct for defusing conflict, noting that the candidate even tried to play peacemaker between Mr. de Blasio and his wealthy antagonists: In 2015, Mr. McGuire hosted a reception for the mayor and his wife, Chirlane McCray, hoping they might grow closer to assorted business titans. (It didn’t take.)
Some competitors have moved quickly to attach the political stench of banking to Mr. McGuire, whose rivals include Eric Adams, the Brooklyn borough president; Scott M. Stringer, the city comptroller; and Andrew Yang, the former presidential candidate.
Operatives for other campaigns have focused especially on Mr. McGuire’s business dealings with figures unpalatable to Democrats, like the Koch brothers.
Friends say that this, too, speaks well of him.
“We are investment bankers!” said William M. Lewis Jr., a co-chairman of investment banking at Lazard who has known Mr. McGuire since their time at Harvard. “We get paid a lot of money to help bridge differences. People should view it as a compliment that somebody, who is as different at their core as Ray, would look to Ray to try to help them get something done.”