Eric Adams, the Brooklyn borough president and a former police captain, was declared the winner of the Democratic primary for mayor on Tuesday after running as a blue-collar New Yorker and winning substantial support in working-class neighborhoods, particularly in Brooklyn and the Bronx.
Mr. Adams, who is poised to become just the second Black mayor in the city’s history, hovered near the lead in polls for most of the primary campaign before jumping ahead at the end as he focused his message on improving public safety without violating the rights of Black and Latino New Yorkers.
That focus came as the city saw an increase in shootings and homicides, which disproportionately affect Black and Latino neighborhoods.
“While there are still some very small amounts of votes to be counted, the results are clear: an historic, diverse, five-borough coalition led by working-class New Yorkers has led us to victory in the Democratic primary for Mayor of New York City,” Mr. Adams said in a statement on Tuesday evening.
“Now we must focus on winning in November so that we can deliver on the promise of this great city for those who are struggling, who are underserved, and who are committed to a safe, fair, affordable future for all New Yorkers,” he added.
He kept the focus on his biography in a tweet accompanying a graphic of the election results. “I grew up poor in Brooklyn & Queens,” he wrote. “I wore a bulletproof vest to keep my neighbors safe. I served my community as a State Senator & Brooklyn Borough President. And I’m honored to be the Democratic nominee to be the Mayor of the city I’ve always called home.”
Mr. Adams focused during the campaign on changing how services are delivered, promising to improve unhealthy school lunches and create interventions to prevent young people from becoming involved in the criminal justice system.
That focus worked, and Mr. Adams won huge swaths of Brooklyn, the Bronx and southeast Queens, sweeping neighborhoods where middle-class and working-class Black and Latino residents live.
Mr. Adams and his supporters would occasionally invoke the language of the city’s first and only Black mayor, David N. Dinkins, in describing the coalition that he built as a “gorgeous mosaic.”
During the campaign, Mr. Adams, 60, focused heavily on his biography as someone who grew up poor in Brooklyn and Queens and was abused by the police as a teenager, but then decided to join the department.
He rose to become a captain and for years was a vocal critic of discriminatory policing and a fierce advocate for Black officers, often infuriating his superiors. In 2006, he retired from the New York Police Department to run a successful campaign for State Senate. He was later elected borough president, taking office in 2014.
Mr. Adams has also highlighted the national significance of his campaign, saying he was the new face of the Democratic Party.
“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,” he said after the June 22 primary.
Eric Adams won a narrow victory in the Democratic primary for mayor of New York City after a new tally of absentee ballots on Tuesday night, according to The Associated Press.
The news service called the race for Mr. Adams after results from the city’s Board of Elections showed that he held a lead of one percentage point over his nearest rival, Kathryn Garcia.
With most absentee votes now counted, Mr. Adams led Ms. Garcia by 8,426 votes in the city’s first mayoral contest to be determined by ranked-choice voting.
The results have not been finalized, and there are still a few thousand ballots to count — but with 118,000 absentee votes now accounted for, Mr. Adams had bested Ms. Garcia by a margin that makes it highly unlikely she can close the gap. As the Democratic nominee, Mr. Adams will be the overwhelming favorite to win in November against the Republican nominee, Curtis Sliwa.
Maya Wiley, who emerged late in the primary as a left-wing standard-bearer, ended up in third place in the tally released on Tuesday. She had come in second place in the initial count of in-person ballots cast on Primary Day and during the early vote period, with Ms. Garcia behind her in third.
But Ms. Garcia overcame a double-digit deficit to overtake Ms. Wiley and to nearly catch Mr. Adams as the ranked-choice voting process played out and absentee ballots were counted. It was a remarkable development for Ms. Garcia, a candidate who until recently was little-known and who lacked the institutional support and the political operation that helped propel Mr. Adams, a veteran city politician.
As of Tuesday night, though, Ms. Garcia had still fallen short of overtaking Mr. Adams, who has maintained a lead since Primary Day, fueled by his strength among working-class voters in Black and Latino neighborhoods and aided by significant support from labor unions.
Under the city’s new ranked-choice voting system, voters could rank up to five candidates on their ballots in preferential order.
Because Mr. Adams, a former police captain, did not receive more than 50 percent of first-choice votes, the winner had to be decided by elimination. In each round, the candidate with the least number of first-choice votes is eliminated and that person’s votes are distributed to the voters’ next-ranked choice. The round-by-round process continues until there is a winner.
The results followed an extraordinary stretch in the city’s political history: the race began in a pandemic and took multiple unexpected twists in the final weeks. Most recently, it was colored by a vote-tallying debacle at the Board of Elections.
There are still some ballots left to account for, and it was not immediately clear on Tuesday whether any of the contenders would mount legal challenges as the race neared its conclusion, though Mr. Adams’s lead, in pure vote totals, was a sizable one. All three leading candidates had filed to maintain that option.
The tally on Tuesday showed that Ms. Garcia strongly benefited when Ms. Wiley was eliminated. She also received a boost following the elimination of Andrew Yang, the former presidential candidate with whom Ms. Garcia campaigned in the final stretch. When Mr. Yang was eliminated in the latest tally, that boosted Ms. Garcia from third place to second.
Kathryn Garcia and Maya Wiley, the two mayoral candidates who have consistently trailed Eric Adams in the election results as new tabulations have been released, did not concede on Tuesday evening, even after Mr. Adams declared victory and The Associated Press projected him as the winner of the Democratic nomination.
Both Ms. Wiley and Ms. Garcia were vying to become the first woman elected New York City’s mayor. With most absentee votes now counted, Mr. Adams led Ms. Garcia by 8,426 votes in the city’s first mayoral contest to be determined by ranked-choice voting.
Though results have not been officially certified and some votes remain outstanding, Mr. Adams appeared to have beaten Ms. Garcia by a margin that makes it very unlikely that she can close the gap.
A spokeswoman for Kathryn Garcia, Lindsey Green, said that Ms. Garcia’s campaign was “currently seeking additional clarity on the number of outstanding ballots.”
But Ms. Garcia and her team were “committed to supporting the Democratic nominee,” regardless of who emerged victorious, Ms. Green said.
Ms. Wiley, who finished in third place in the tally released on Tuesday, promised in a statement that she would “have more to say about the next steps shortly.” (Abby Glime, a spokeswoman, said that Ms. Wiley was not expected to comment further on Tuesday night.)
Ms. Wiley’s statement was devoted mostly to criticism of the city’s Board of Elections, which bungled the release of a ranked-choice tabulation last week and released results later than expected on Tuesday night.
“New York City’s voters deserve better,” she said, “and the BOE must be completely remade following what can only be described as a debacle.”
While Eric Adams has been declared the Democratic nominee for mayor of New York City, some work remains to be done — on the part of the other candidates, on the part of the campaigns’ attorneys, and on the part of the Board of Elections.
For one, while Mr. Adams has declared victory, neither of his two chief competitors has formally conceded.
The campaign of Kathryn Garcia, the former sanitation commissioner who trailed Mr. Adams by just one percentage point on Tuesday, or about 8,400 votes, called the results “nearly final.”
“We are currently seeking additional clarity on the number of outstanding ballots and are committed to supporting the democratic nominee,” said Ms. Garcia’s spokeswoman, Lindsey Green.
Maya Wiley, the former counsel to Mayor Bill de Blasio, was trailing both Ms. Garcia and Mr. Adams. On Tuesday night, she issued a statement calling the results “initial and uncertified” and used her statement to excoriate the Board of Elections.
“It would be an understatement to express dismay at the B.O.E.’s administration of this election,” she said.
It was not clear when they intended to comment further.
Further, several questions remain about the minutiae of the New York City vote, questions that are highly unlikely to affect the outcome, but nevertheless may occupy election lawyers for days to come.
Tuesday’s tabulations included most, but not all of the absentee ballots. Initially, the universe of absentee ballots was understood to number about 125,000. The board told Mr. Adams’s campaign that only about 114,000 of those absentee ballots are considered valid, and that the rest were deemed invalid or, in the case of 3,700 ballots, contained defects that voters could potentially “cure” by July 14.
Thanks to a rolling deadline for curing ballots, only 942 of those ballots could still be cured as of Tuesday, according to the Board of Elections. It was unclear how many of the other roughly 2,760 defective ballots had already been cured or missed the timeline to be.
There are also 6,000 to 7,000 valid affidavit ballots, according to a person on Mr. Adams’s campaign. Those are ballots filed by people who are missing from the list of eligible voters at the polling station they go to. After the election, the Board of Elections checks the affidavit ballots against its records and counts the votes of those who are in fact eligible.
A Board of Elections spokeswoman was unable to immediately confirm the Adams campaign’s account.
Absentee and affidavit ballots can be contested; it was not clear on Tuesday whether Mr. Adams’s rivals were challenging any.
One striking figure in the new tally of votes that the New York City Board of Elections released on Tuesday evening was the high number of so-called exhausted ballots. There were more than 139,000 of them in the final round — nearly 15 percent of the roughly 937,600 votes counted in the Democratic primary so far.
New York City’s voters, who were using ranked choice for the first time in a citywide election, could be forgiven for finding the term mystifying. Here’s what it means.
Under the system, New Yorkers could rank up to five candidates on their ballot in order of preference. A ballot is considered to be “exhausted” when every candidate ranked by a voter has been eliminated from the race, and the ballot does not help decide the winner.
The voters whose ballots were exhausted in the final round did not rank Eric Adams, who was declared the winner on Tuesday night, or Kathryn Garcia, who was in second place. If a large enough number of those exhausted ballots had ranked Ms. Garcia, they could have changed the outcome of the race.
Mr. Adams was leading Ms. Garcia by only 8,426 votes on Tuesday night.
Many New Yorkers did rank multiple candidates on their ballot, and Ms. Garcia benefited from being the second or third choice for voters who supported other candidates like Maya Wiley, a former counsel to Mayor Bill de Blasio who finished third, and Andrew Yang, the 2020 presidential candidate who struck a late alliance with Ms. Garcia, finished fourth in first-round results and conceded.
Nate Cohn, a writer for The Upshot at The New York Times, wrote on Twitter on Tuesday night that there was no way to know which candidate the exhausted ballots might have favored or “if those voters simply disliked both” Mr. Adams and Ms. Garcia.
In the end, 139459 exhausted ballots, or 15% of ballots cast.
No way to know whether they would have broken for Garcia by a 62-38 margin–like the other non-Garcia/Adams ballots–or if those voters simply disliked both. But certainly enough voters there to cover the margin
— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) July 6, 2021
Brad Lander, a member of the City Council from Brooklyn, declared victory on Tuesday evening over Corey Johnson, the council’s speaker, in the Democratic primary for New York City comptroller. Mr. Lander led Mr. Johnson by 24,683 votes, according to data released by the Board of Elections.
That margin of victory appears to be more than the number of ballots remaining to be counted and ranked under the city’s new ranked-choice-voting system.
In a statement on Tuesday evening, Mr. Lander said he wanted to work to build “a city that is more just, more equal, and more prepared for the future.”
Mr. Lander has pledged to be more of an activist comptroller and said he would use the power of the office to fight climate change and other problems. His win is seen as a major victory for the city’s progressive movement and means that Eric Adams, who won the Democratic primary for mayor, will have to contend with both a comptroller and a City Council who are further to the left than him on many issues, including policing and urban development.
Mr. Landler’s chief rival, Mr. Johnson, conceded.
“Today, after seeing the numbers released by the Board of Elections, it’s clear that the right thing to do is to suspend my campaign for Comptroller,” Mr. Johnson said in a statement. “This was a hard-fought campaign and I congratulate Brad Lander on his victory.”
The comptroller serves as the city’s chief financial officer, performing critical audits and monitoring how the mayor and the City Council spend taxpayer money. The comptroller is also the fiduciary for $ 250 billion in pension funds covering 620,000 people.
New York City just passed a record $ 99 billion budget that includes at least $ 14 billion in federal assistance. But the city faces budget gaps in future fiscal years, along with uncertainty about the recovery of the business community.
Mr. Lander united the city’s progressive movement behind his candidacy with endorsements from Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez while also gaining national progressive endorsements from the likes of Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.
Mr. Johnson had gained the support of several labor unions. He dropped out of the mayoral contest last September, citing his mental health. A few months later, he joined the comptroller’s race, betting that his name recognition and experience negotiating multiple city budgets would push him to victory.
The likely makeup of the next City Council became clearer on Tuesday night, when the Board of Elections released new ranked-choice results that included a more than 100,000 absentee ballots.
If the results from Tuesday night hold, women are expected to make up a majority of the City Council for the first time in the city’s history. At the end of ranked-choice tabulations, women were leading in 29 of the 51 Democratic primaries.
More than half the members of the City Council will vacate their seats at the end of the year, largely because term limits prevent them from running for re-election. Most, though not all, of the incumbents who were seeking re-election cruised to an easy victory on Primary Day.
The tabulation released on Tuesday was still preliminary. It is unclear how many absentee ballots remain outstanding in some Council districts, including ballots that were initially deemed invalid but need to be “cured.”
But more than 100,000 absentee ballots across the city have been counted since the last tabulation was released on Friday night, and the outcome of the Democratic primary races for most of the open seats have remained largely the same since then.
In District 18 in the Bronx, the results released on Friday showed Amanda Farias, a community organizer, coming from behind William Rivera, the district manager of a Bronx community board, after the ranked-choice system was run.
On Tuesday, with absentee ballots included, Ms. Farias appeared to have the most first-choice votes, and she widened her lead in the final round.
In District 32, where Democrats hope to flip the last Republican seat in Queens, Felicia Singh, a teacher backed by the Working Families Party, remained about 400 votes ahead of Michael Scala, a lawyer, in the final round. The winner in that race will face off against Joann Ariola, who won the Republican primary, in November.
Despite predictions that ranked-choice voting tabulations had the potential to upend City Council races as candidates were eliminated from contention, the results released on Tuesday showed just two Democratic primaries where a candidate appeared to come from behind to win.
In District 9 in Harlem, the current council member, Bill Perkins, had 525 more first-choice votes than Kristin Richardson Jordan, a teacher and author.
But in the ranked-choice tabulation released on Tuesday, Ms. Jordan picked up enough votes after other candidates were eliminated that she finished ahead by a slim 100 votes in the final round. It was not immediately clear how many ballots were outstanding in the race.
In District 25 in Queens, Yi Chen, a businessman, led by 98 votes in the first round of ranked-choice voting. But Shekar Krishnan, a civil rights lawyer, took the lead in the fifth round of counting and ended up ahead by more than 800 votes.
With one of the most competitive mayor’s races in recent memory and a number of hotly contested down-ballot primaries, the turnout in last month’s Democratic mayoral primary in New York City was the strongest in years.
So far, the Board of Elections has counted the ballots of about 820,000 registered Democrats who voted in-person in the mayoral primary. As of Friday, an additional 125,794 Democratic absentee ballots had been returned, likely bringing the turnout to at least 945,000 voters.
That means that roughly 26 percent of the city’s 3.7 million registered Democrats voted in the mayoral primary this year — which is higher than, say, the 22 percent that voted in 2013, the last time there was a wide-open mayoral race. Bill de Blasio ended up prevailing.
However, the turnout was low by historical standards; a number of bitterly fought races in the 1970s and 1980s drew more voters.
The elections board has tallied about 55,000 in-person votes from Republicans, and another 5,800 absentee ballots have been returned. That total of 60,800 ballots accounts for about 10 percent of the city’s registered Republicans.
A Board of Elections official said Tuesday that she expected the mayoral primary to be certified by July 14, once voters have been given the chance to “cure” as many as 3,699 defective ballots.
“Once those total cures are received — and of course, if they all come back sooner than July 14 — we will move with certification,” Dawn Sandow, the deputy executive director of the Board of Elections, said during the board’s weekly meeting.
Ms. Sandow’s new deadline on the board came as the board missed yet another opportunity to demonstrate its ability to keep to a self-imposed schedule.
On Tuesday, the board’s Twitter account cheekily promised a new, possibly definitive round of results by “more brunch special vs. club hours.” But as late morning turned to afternoon and afternoon to early evening, the board announced that in fact it hoped to release the new results by 7:30 p.m. In fact, they came out a little before 6:45 p.m.
The new tally includes most absentee votes and is therefore expected to be more definitive than the tally released last week — which included none of the roughly 125,000 Democratic absentee ballots and was itself delayed by a day after the board accidentally included more than 130,000 extra test ballots in the total it released to the public, and then deleted from its website.
The board released corrected results the following day, but the damage to public confidence in the board was done. On Tuesday, Ms. Sandow called the reporting error “unacceptable.”
“We apologize to the voters of our great city for this error,” Ms. Sandow said.
Her apologetic tone differed from the tenor of an email she sent to staff last Thursday, in which the board’s executive team adopted a defiant posture.
“The amount of changes thrown at us to implement in a short period of time during a worldwide pandemic was unsurmountable and WE DID IT ALL SUCCESSFULLY!” the email, signed by “The Executive Management Team,” read. “The media, the public nor the elected officials will ever take that away from us.”
For the first time, the Board of Elections implemented ranked-choice voting in a mayoral election. The board is using open-source software to perform the successive rounds of tabulation required by this type of voting, and it ignored requests from the software developer to assist in the vote count before last week’s debacle.
On Tuesday, Ms. Sandow suggested that the board’s mistake arose from competing aims.
“The process we followed was transparent and open,” she said. “We were trying to satisfy expectations of quick results with a new way of voting. What we can say with certainty, this issue caused no votes to be lost, no voter disenfranchised and no incorrect results to be certified.”
These days, when error or scandal hits big organizations, a degree of sympathy goes out to the keepers of their social-media accounts, often young, poorly paid or both, who stand on the front lines and face the public’s wrath.
The Twitter account for New York City’s Board of Elections, @BOENYC, is no exception. Since the board released incorrect preliminary results last Tuesday in the high-stakes race to choose the city’s next mayor, the account has been its most visible conduit to the public. The account has not fared well.
It has been mocked for posting intermittent, incomplete updates and explanations. It has set deadlines for releasing new information, only to have the board break them again and again and then post important news late at night and without warning. It even posted an apology that seemed to be written — like a mea culpa thumb-typed by a wayward social-media influencer — using the iPhone Notes app, prompting more derision.
On Tuesday, the account offered an attempt at levity. In an apparent reference to the 4 p.m. release of its corrected initial results last Wednesday, the account promised that new partial voting results would come out closer to “brunch special” than to “club hours.”
We promise today’s release is more brunch special vs. club hours.
— NYC Board of Elections (@BOENYC) July 6, 2021
That was at 8:48 a.m. As the day wore on, a robust discussion broke out over when brunch could be said to end; in any case, as of 6:30 p.m., the outside edge of brunch hours in New York City for even the most hung over, the board had yet to release results.
At 5:09 p.m., @BOENYC surfaced with a new tweet that extended brunch into dinner time. The new results, it said, could be out “by 7:30 p.m. tonight.”
The NYC Board of Elections will release the RCV round by round elimination report 2 by 7:30 pm tonight. We thank you for your patience while we complete our extra layer of quality control.
— NYC Board of Elections (@BOENYC) July 6, 2021
By that time, though, New York politics Twitter was not just skeptical, but downright punchy.
“Who among us hasn’t pushed brunch to 7:30 pm” posted one Politico reporter.
“It’s brunch o’clock somewhere,” countered a think-tank communications officer.
Jon Lovett, a former presidential speechwriter, compared the situation to a long spell on hold with a corporate phone tree: “Your election is important to us.”
This time, the board’s account beat its own deadline. At 6:39 p.m., it announced that the results were posted.
(But it did not include a link to the results page, which confusingly was still topped by a week-old apology for a previous error — so Twitter users helpfully posted the page, along with some sharp-tongued comments.)
Behind it all was a growing sense that folksy, self-deprecating posts ought to come along with transparency, not instead of it — especially given the seriousness of the stakes. New Yorkers are choosing a leader who will be tasked with overseeing the city’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, in the first major election using the city’s new system of ranked-choice voting, amid a national crisis over trust in the reliability of reported facts in general and in the integrity of elections in particular.
Still, responses to @BOENYC have included the occasional dash of empathy, too.
When a commenter offered “thoughts and prayers” on Sunday, the account responded with a thank-you emoji, prompting another round of cheers, jeers and pity, from “You ain’t good at this if you think responding to this tweet is good form” to “the sweetest tweet ever.”
There was also a hint that the operator of the Twitter account might not be a lowly intern after all, but instead the board’s hard-to-reach communications director, Valerie Vazquez.
Social media person seems so impersonal…you can call me your pal Val!
— NYC Board of Elections (@BOENYC) July 4, 2021
Ms. Vasquez was asked in a text message whether she was the animating intelligence behind @BOENYC. She did not immediately respond.
Author: Jeffery C. Mays
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