NEW YORK:___While it may take weeks before New Yorkers know who officially won the first citywide primary election with the new ranked-choice voting system, one thing is clear: whoever wins the Democratic nomination for mayor will make history.
In the unofficial election night returns, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who would become the city’s second-only Black mayor, led the field Tuesday night with more than 31% of the vote. The election returns show Adams leading in every borough except Manhattan
After spending the final days on the campaign attacking his opponents for teaming up to campaign together, Adams arrived at the podium to resounding chants of, “The champ is here!” and declared, “The little guy won,” even though he was among the first entrants to the race and consistently led in public polls and fundraising. While Adams acknowledged that the counting process was far from over, he also took a moment, gathered with throngs of supporters in Williamsburg, to bask in his current lead in the 13-candidate Democratic field.
“We know there’s going to be two’s and three’s and four’s. We know that, but there is something else we know,” Adams told supporters, before breaking into a broad smile, “New York City said our first choice is Eric Adams.”
From there, Adams lashed out at recent media coverage, drawing a distinction between longer-serving reporters who knew him and newer reporters who were covering his campaign. He also took indirect aim at the candidate who became his chief foil in the final days of the race, Andrew Yang, whose campaign launch disrupted the mayoral playing field by injecting a legion of more than a million social media followers from his failed presidential campaign.
“Social media does not pick a candidate. People on social security pick a candidate,” Adams told supporters. “I don’t care what people tweet. I care about the people I meet on the street.”
While Adams adopted the position of the confident frontrunner, both Maya Wiley and Kathryn Garcia, who currently stand in very close second and third positions, sent a clear message to their supporters that this race is far from over. Either would be the city’s first woman mayor; Wiley would be the first Black woman mayor.
Speaking through a raspy, campaign-strained voice, Wiley invoked the struggles facing New Yorkers and their resilience when recovering from them (even joking about her croaking voice). Finishing in second place with more than 22% of the vote, she called out the largest union who endorsed her early in the race, 1199 SEIU, representing the city’s healthcare workers.
“Fifty percent of the ranked choice vote has not been counted,” Wiley said, with a nod to singer Alicia Keys, “Ok, this girl is on fire.”
By Primary Day, Wiley had emerged as the candidate of the progressive left, picking up endorsements and voters shed by New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer and former nonprofit executive Dianne Morales, both of whose campaigns were damaged by misconduct allegations.
Kathryn Garcia, the city’s former Sanitation Commissioner, finished just behind Wiley with nearly 20% of the vote. Praising her small but scrappy team, Garcia said her whole campaign was about overcoming expectations from those who didn’t believe someone outside the political process could mount an effective campaign. But she stressed her outsider status was exactly why she would do the best job.
“When I take this home, I still won’t have any favors to repay,” she told supporters. She stressed that the race is going to be about “the two’s and three’s,” a nod to ranked-choice voting and her strategy in final days to pick up more support by appealing to Yang’s base.
It’s a strategy that appears to have benefited Garcia in the first tally of results. Yang, who entered the race as an early frontrunner but stumbled on the specifics of New York City policy, finished in fourth place with not quite 12%. “It was a people-powered campaign that wanted to change the way the city operates,” Yang told his supporters.
Describing himself as a numbers guy, Yang acknowledged that he did not have the votes to win the nomination. “I am conceding this race,” Yang said, while vowing to work with whoever the eventual winner was to help the city with its recovery.
In the other two citywide ranked-choice contests in the Democratic primary, City Councilmember Brad Lander, who built a strong progressive coalition throughout the race, led with 31% of the results over City Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s 22%, a surprising second-place finish for a candidate who had been leading in the polls and secured endorsements from a host of major unions.
Public Advocate Jumaane Williams secured his re-election nomination with more than 70% of the vote, eliminating the need for additional ranked-choice tallies.
The first tally of ranked-choice results will not be released until Tuesday, June 29th, according to the New York City Board of Elections. Those results will then be updated on a weekly basis until all the eligible votes are counted. Elections officials have said it could take until mid-July.
One race that did not use ranked-choice voting was the Democratic primary for Manhattan District Attorney in which former prosecutor Alvin Bragg held a narrow three-point lead over his closest competitor, Tali Farhadian Weinstein. Bragg stopped short of declaring victory Tuesday night, insisting he would wait until all the votes were counted. While he currently has 7,265 more votes, there are more than 59,483 absentee ballots that were requested in Manhattan, and 27,682 that have been returned. Elections officials will not begin to count those votes until next week.