Early results show Adams leading NYC mayoral primary as counting continues

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams has taken an early lead in New York City’s Democratic mayoral primary as votes continue to be tallied in a race that will be determined by ranked choice.

Adams had taken 30.9 percent of the vote in the first round with 88 percent of ballots tallied as of 11:23 p.m. ET. He led civil rights lawyer Maya Wiley with 21.7 percent and former New York City Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia with 20.5 percent. Former presidential candidate Andrew Yang came in fourth with 11.7 percent and conceded the race Tuesday evening.

The primary is the most consequential race in New York City in years, as the winner of the nominating contest will be virtually guaranteed a ticket to Gracie Mansion and tasked with grappling with a slew of pressing issues, including a rise in violent crime and the continued recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. 

But voters will likely be kept waiting into next month as the race’s ranked choice voting system plays out. Observers have speculated that a winner may not be formally declared until mid-July.

New York City is experimenting with ranked-choice voting for the first time in its history. Under the system, which has been used in San Francisco but few other major metropolitan areas, voters can rank their top five choices. Should no candidate win an outright majority, votes for subsequent picks are reallocated until one contender gets more than 50 percent of the vote.

The city is releasing results of the first round of voting Tuesday night, but ballots for later rounds are not expected until June 29. 

Adams entered Election Day as the prohibitive front-runner, but observers say the race was far from in the bag heading into Tuesday. 

The Brooklyn borough president had topped a spate of public polling in the week before Election Day, while Garcia, Yang and Wiley filled out the top four in those surveys in varying orders.

Adams, Garcia and Yang had occupied the centrist lane late in the primary, while Wiley enjoyed a consolidation of progressive support in the final weeks of the race as other liberal candidates were derailed by scandals.

The primary field was divided over a spate of issues, but arguably none more than criminal justice reform, which took center stage amid the spike in crime. 

Adams, Garcia and Yang had all proposed increasing the number of police officers on the streets, including in the city’s subways, while Wiley has advocated for diverting some police funds to other community initiatives that she says would produce a drop in violence, leading to attacks from centrists over the “defund the police” movement.

The race adopted an even more bitter tone in the waning days of the primary after Garcia and Yang teamed up over the weekend and campaigned together, a move seen by many as an informal alliance in the ranked-choice voting system.

Yang said that voters should write down Garcia as their No. 2 choice if they back him, though Garcia did not issue a reciprocal call to her supporters.

The semi-alliance appeared to be aimed at Adams, who repeatedly fired back in stark terms that the duo was trying to limit the power of Black and Hispanic voters.

“I assure voters that no one is gonna steal the election from me,” he added Monday.

Garcia and Yang both maintained they were not trying to silence certain voters’ voices, and Garcia said she was open to campaigning with other primary candidates.

Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa won the GOP mayoral primary, though he faces a steep uphill climb in beating the ultimate Democratic nominee in November.

Tags Andrew Yang Eric Adams Kathryn Garcia Maya Wiley New York City

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