As of early Wednesday morning, New York City mayoral candidate Eric Adams leads the Democratic primary contest by a comfortable ten-point margin, but remains short of outright victory thanks to the delays in ballot-counting caused by the city’s adoption of ranked-choice voting.
With 84 percent of ballots counted, Adams has secured 31.7 percent of the vote; Maya Wiley, former counsel to mayor Bill de Blasio, follows with 22.3 percent; former New York City Sanitation Department commissioner Kathryn Garcia has 19.5 percent. Businessman and former presidential candidate Andrew Yang became the first candidate to drop out late Tuesday after securing just 11.7 percent of the vote.
Adams, who currently serves as Brooklyn borough president, has secured the plurality of the vote in four out of five boroughs, including Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island.
Yang, who was considered a frontrunner on the campaign trail for many months thanks to his strong name-ID, conceded defeat late Tuesday night, putting an end to his second appearance on the political scene, after his Democratic presidential bid in 2020.
“You know I am a numbers guy…and I am not going to be the next mayor of New York City,” Yang told a group of supporters on Tuesday. Yang said he would be willing to work in the administration of whoever is elected mayor.
The winner of the Democratic primary is generally expected to win New York’s mayoral race given the strong Democratic majority. New York City is home to 3.7 million registered Democrats, 1.08 million Independents, and about 566,000 Republicans as of February 2021.
The counting of ranked-choice ballots is expected to slow the release of a final tally, as is the counting of absentee ballots, which are expected to constitute roughly 15 to 20 percent of the total ballots and can be submitted as late as ten days after Election Day.
The primary marks the first time New York is using ranked-choice voting, in which voters can pick multiple candidates in order of their preference. If no candidate receives a majority in the initial round, the losing candidate’s votes are distributed among the remaining candidates according to voters’ second preference. The process continues until a victor is declared.
Wiley, who filed her ballot last week during the early voting period, had to ask for a new ballot after filling out the first incorrectly.
“It’s not so much that it’s confusing. It’s that you have to line up the names to the numbers,” Wiley said at the time.
Crime and public safety became increasingly important issues during the primary, with 56 percent of likely voters ranking them as “top priorities” for the new mayor to address, according to an Ipsos poll released on Monday. The next-pressing issue was reopening the economy, which 25 percent of likely voters chose as their top priority.
Adams, a former NYPD captain, and Yang attempted to portray themselves as the best candidates to tackle crime in the city, and repeatedly condemned calls to defund the NYPD.
“Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and Maya Wiley want to slash the police department budget and shrink the police force at a time when Black and brown babies are being shot in our streets, hate crimes are terrorizing Asian and Jewish communities, and innocent New Yorkers are being stabbed and shot on their way to work,” Adams said in a statement following a primary debate.
Yang called to support police while also taking people with severe mental illness off city streets.
“Mentally ill homeless men are changing the character of our neighborhoods. . . . We’re talking about the hundreds of mentally ill people we see around us every day on the streets and the subways,” Yang said at a debate on June 17. “We need to get them off of our streets and our subways, into a better environment.”
On Saturday, Yang and Kathryn Garcia opened an alliance against Adams, with Yang telling voters to rank him first and Garcia second. Adams responded by accusing the two of trying to prevent a “person of color” from becoming mayor.
“For them to come together like they are doing in the last three days, they’re saying we can’t trust a person of color to be the mayor of the City of New York when this city is overwhelmingly people of color,” Adams told reporters.
“I would tell Eric Adams that I’ve been Asian my entire life,” Yang said in response.