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With No Clear Winner, Ranked Choice Voting Will Decide NYC Mayor

New Yorkers aren’t known for their patience, but they don’t have much of a choice except to wait for the results of the election expected to decide who will be the Big Apple’s next mayor.

NEW YORK CITY (CN) — New Yorkers aren’t known for their patience, but they don’t have much of a choice except to wait for the results of the election expected to decide who will be the Big Apple’s next mayor.

Eric Adams, Brooklyn borough president and a former police officer of 22 years, got the most first choice votes in the city’s Democratic mayoral primary Monday night — the first race of its kind to employ ranked choice voting. But new election laws and absentee ballots mean the winner may not be decided for weeks. 

Based on in-person voting alone, Adams got more than 31% of first choice votes, according to New York City’s Board of Elections, as of 1 a.m. Eastern time. 

Maya Wiley, former counselor to Mayor Bill de Blasio and an MSNBC legal analyst, is in second place with more than 22%, and former sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia, just shy of 20%, is in a close third. 

Since no candidate got 50% of the vote, and absentee ballots won’t be counted until next Tuesday, the election will ultimately be decided by ranked choice voting. That leaves the possibility for another candidate to overtake Adams.

On Tuesday night, though, Adams leaned into his big lead. “The little guy won today,” he said shortly after 11 p.m. 

He acknowledged that the early results counted first choice votes only. 

“There’s going to be twos, and threes, and fours, we know that,” Adams said. “But there’s something else we know: New York City said, ‘our first choice is Eric Adams.’” 

Adams went on to criticize reporters, and specifically young journalists, for paying attention to Twitter during the mayoral election, suggesting that “seasoned” reporters know and respect him. 

“Social media does not pick a candidate,” he said. “People on social security pick a candidate.” 

Later, in a somber moment, Adams remembered his late mother, who died in March, saying the city betrayed her by creating conditions under which she could not afford nutritious food and had to work three jobs. 

He promised better days ahead. “Tonight, all of us, we are on the precipice of gaining the keys to the prosperity of our city,” Adams said. 

Despite the unknowns of ranked choice voting, Adams’ 10% lead will be difficult — though not impossible — to overcome in the runoff rounds, said George Fontas, political analyst and founder of Fontas Advisors. 

Back in January, Fontas said, his team predicted that New Yorkers wanted to elect a pragmatic, moderate Democrat with significant governing experience and a “roll-up-your-sleeves attitude.” 

“Eric has really embodied that description to a T over the last six months,” Fontas said. 

He added that, at the start of the campaign, the central issue was the Covid-19 pandemic. By the end, talk had turned to policing. Debate questions centered on whether to defund police budgets or increase officers’ presence on streets and subways. 

Adams “met the campaign at the end,” Fontas said. “He was waiting there on the police and public safety issue,” and the campaign eventually made its way there, too. 

In second place, Wiley, who emerged as the favorite progressive choice in recent weeks, appeared in good spirits throughout the evening, dancing with supporters and campaign staff as results came in. 

Speaking with a campaign’s-end hoarseness in her voice, Wiley addressed her campaign, calling them “our people, who look like the City of New York.” 

She said that she knows people are fearful about recovery: “Whether we recover what we love about this city, whether I recover my voice.” 


But Wiley, who several times evoked the resilience of New Yorkers, assured that “this city recovers every goddamn single time.” 

In third place, Garcia — who was endorsed by both the New York Times and New York Daily News — told supporters on Tuesday night: “This has always, for me, been about the work.” 

She referenced sleeping in her office during the fallout from Hurricane Sandy, when she helped fix pumping stations at a wastewater treatment plant, and acknowledged the early nature of the primary results. 

“We’re not going to know a whole lot more tonight than we know now,” Garcia said, then telling supporters to “party like it’s 1999.” 

Andrew Yang conceded shortly after 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday night, with less than 12% of the vote. Scott Stringer, city comptroller, clocked just over of 5% of the vote. 

Though the city’s first time using ranked-choice voting in its mayoral primary has stoked more uncertainty than usual, it’s not the direct reason for the potentially weeks-long delay in results. 

The wait is due to absentee ballots, which must be received within the next week. 

Under a mail-in voting policy signed into law in August 2020, county election boards have to notify voters of incorrect signatures, of missing inner envelopes, and allow the voter to “cure” the mistake. 

The first round of ranked-choice voting analysis will eliminate the bottom candidate, recount votes accordingly, then continue until there is a winner with 50% of the vote. The process will kick off next Tuesday, June 29, and will include only in-person votes. 

Absentee ballots will be counted a week later, on July 6, and the process could recur the week of July 12 if uncounted or controversial ballots remain. 

On top of the vote for mayor, the ranked-choice system was used for public advocate, comptroller, borough president and city council elections.

In contrast to the strung-along Democratic campaign, a straightforward Republican primary saw Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa handily beat restaurant owner Fernando Mateo, capturing 71.9% of the vote. 

Sliwa’s supporters, gathered at a steakhouse to watch results come in, included former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who said he was friends with both candidates, but that Sliwa’s crime-fighting experience made him the right man for the job. 

Sliwa thanked supporters in the city’s Republican enclaves, and noted that his primary had gotten far less attention than its Democratic counterpart, due to the city’s electoral makeup. He then discussed more compassionate treatment of people who are homeless, a topic that came up frequently during Democratic debates. 

“I am the man who relates to the average people in the city,” Sliwa said. “The homeless, the emotionally disturbed, those who are forgotten.” 

Sliwa, who along with his wife lives with 15 rescue cats, also promised to end animal kill shelters. 

Voters got to choose only one candidate in the election for Manhattan district attorney. In the lead on Tuesday night was Alvin Bragg, a former deputy attorney general who led a special unit to investigate police-involved killings, who stopped short of claiming victory over former Brooklyn prosecutor Tali Farhadian Weinstein. 

Bragg, who also worked as a federal prosecutor in the Southern District of New York, has said he will end cash bail and decline to prosecute low-level offenses when doing so wouldn’t benefit public safety.

“We’re going to demand and deliver on safety and fairness,” he told supporters late Tuesday. “We’ve been demanding both and will deliver both.”

The next DA is expected to take over Cyrus Vance’s investigation into Donald Trump and the Trump Organization, the details of which are not yet public. 

Rounding out 11 years on the job, Vance’s term was the shortest-lived in the office in decades. His predecessor, Robert Morgenthau, was in office for 34 years, and Frank Hogan before him served for 31 years — making the next person to take the job only the fourth Manhattan DA in the last 80 years.

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