Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams will be the Democratic nominee for mayor of New York City, CNN projects, following the latest ranked-choice count of primary voters, a tally that for the first time included the lion’s share of nearly 126,000 absentee ballots cast.
Former Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia finished a narrow second in the count released Tuesday night by the New York City Board of Elections, with Adams leading her by a single percentage point — 50.5% to 49.5% — in the final round. Civil rights attorney Maya Wiley made it to the penultimate round, placing third in the still-unofficial results.
CNN projects the remaining uncounted ballots won’t be enough for any of the other candidates to catch Adams.
Adams has spoken confidently since Election Night, when he raced out to an early lead — and declared victory after the new numbers were published by the BOE. If he defeats Republican nominee Curtis Sliwa, a heavy underdog, in the fall, Adams would become the second Black mayor in the city’s history and the first since the late David Dinkins lost reelection in 1993. A retired captain in the New York Police Department, Adams emerged from a deep field and dizzying campaign that included former 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang, who briefly seemed to captivate the city before the contest intensified. Yang conceded shortly after the polls closed on June 22 and is on track to finish fourth.
“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,” Adams said in a statement on Tuesday night. “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.”
After unfolding mostly as an afterthought to many New Yorkers for months, in the shadow of a devastating winter wave of Covid-19 and allegations of sexual harassment against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the campaign to succeed term-limited Mayor Bill de Blasio began to heat up in early May. The focus of the race also began to change as voting neared. With vaccination rates up and infections plummeting, public safety — amid a rise in violent crime — took center stage. Adams leaned on his past in law enforcement to make the case that he was singularly qualified to stem the tide. He also pointed to a decades-long history of advocating against racism in the NYPD to argue that, despite his support for a dialed-back form of “stop and frisk” and the return of a controversial plainclothes unit, he offered the best option to successfully overhaul the department.
“The police department would run rings around” the other candidates), Adams told CNN in late May. “They are masters. If you’re a good mayor, you’re only here for eight years. I’ve been here for 30-something years in the department. Police departments will wait you out.”
Adams’ argument landed with a base that largely resides outside of more liberal parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn. Adams ran up his vote totals in places like Southeast Queens, which is predominantly Black, and other working-class outer borough hubs. He also enjoyed considerable support from the city’s labor establishment, was a prolific fundraiser and was backed by a big-spending super PAC. De Blasio, though he never publicly endorsed Adams, was widely believed to prefer him and reportedly made as much clear to some high-profile union leaders.
Wiley, who worked in de Blasio’s administration during his first term as counsel to the mayor, and Garcia gained traction as the race moved into its final weeks, and both had said they saw paths to victory after the first two rounds of counting. But Wiley on Tuesday, after criticizing the BOE’s handling of the count and urging a reform of the bumbling bureaucracy, struck a conciliatory note.
“To my staff, endorsers, friends, volunteers and all the New Yorkers who share our vision for a reimagined New York City, I want to thank you for your fierce commitment to this city and your humbling support for my campaign,” Wiley said in a statement. “We will have more to say about the next steps shortly.”
Garcia, who cut into Adams’ margin this time around, did not immediately respond to the latest results, but spokesperson Lindsey Green said the campaign is “currently seeking additional clarity on the number of outstanding ballots and are committed to supporting the Democratic nominee.”
The newly released numbers include about 118,000 newly tabulated ballots, in addition to votes from early in-person and election day voters. Almost 126,000 Democratic absentee ballots were returned, so this release includes the vast majority of the outstanding ballots, but it is not a final result.
This count published Tuesday night is the fourth — all of them partial and preliminary — of the primary vote. The first, after the polls closed on June 22, showed Adams with about a 10 point-lead in first choice preferences among in-person early and Election Day voters over his nearest competitors. The next, pushed out one week ago, was retracted because the BOE mistakenly included test ballots in its tabulation. A day later, last Wednesday, the first ranked-choice dry-run was successfully conducted. It showed Adams’ lead dwindling to 2.2% over Garcia in the final round, who advanced ahead of Wiley by fewer than 400 votes.
Earlier in the day, the BOE announced at a meeting that there were 3,699 outstanding ballots waiting to be “cured” — or corrected because of a minor error — by voters.
Officials at the gathering downplayed last week’s mess, when the board initially published erroneous figures, describing the public’s desire for timely information and transparency as being at odds with the BOE’s producing accurate data — a situation one described as a “Catch-22.”
They also sought to assure New Yorkers that the final results would not be compromised.
“We were trying to satisfy expectations of quick results with a new way of voting,” one BOE official said at the meeting. “What we can say with certainty this issue caused no votes to be lost, no voter disenfranchised, and no incorrect results to be certified.”
Voters in the Big Apple had the option to rank up to five of the 13 candidates in the race. Since no candidate won a majority of the initial preference votes outright, the New York City Board of Elections is counting voters’ ranked choices to determine the winner.
In ranked-choice voting tabulations, the candidate with the fewest votes after the initial count is eliminated and all ballots for that candidate are reallocated to the next highest-ranked candidate selected. That process continues with the remaining candidates until two are left, with the winner determined by who has the most votes in that final round.
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