Eric Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, held a strong lead on Wednesday, the day after the Democratic primary for mayor of New York City, but the race was far from over.
Mr. Adams gave a triumphant speech on Tuesday night and thanked a long list of supporters who were part of a coalition that included Black and Latino voters, union members and a broad swath of the city outside Manhattan.
He had more than 31 percent of first-choice votes among the nearly 800,000 Democratic votes reported so far. In cities with ranked-choice elections, the candidate who is leading in the first round of voting usually prevails in the final count.
Mr. Adams’s closest competitors, Maya Wiley, a former counsel to Mayor Bill de Blasio, and Kathryn Garcia, a former city sanitation commissioner, had their own corridors of support. Ms. Wiley performed well in some predominantly Black neighborhoods in Brooklyn, and in Astoria and Long Island City in Queens. Ms. Garcia had strong support in Manhattan and in parts of the areas known as Brownstone Brooklyn.
If Mr. Adams emerges as the winner after absentee ballots and ranked choices are tabulated in the coming weeks, it could blunt the momentum of the progressive movement in New York City and reinforce the idea that public safety has become the top issue for voters.
“Adams used his approach on policing of saying we need justice and safety simultaneously to fuse together that traditional coalition,” said Bruce Gyory, a veteran Democratic strategist.
Ms. Wiley told her supporters on Tuesday night that the race was not over.
“Fifty percent of the votes are about to be recalculated,” she said to cheers.
Many voters ranked Ms. Wiley and Ms. Garcia in the first two spots on their ballots, and it is possible that one of them could capture many of the other’s supporters. Both are vying to be the city’s first female mayor, and both made that a central message of their campaigns.
Mr. Adams ran as a working-class underdog and focused on communities that were hit hard by the pandemic, a message he touched on during his primary night speech, said Christina Greer, an associate professor of political science at Fordham University.
“There are so many communities feeling left out and Adams, as his authentic self, seemed just as angry and hurt and inspired as those communities,” Ms. Greer said.
During the long race for the Democratic nomination for mayor, there were certain Black and Latino neighborhoods that Eric Adams, the leader after the first round of vote-counting, returned to time and again.
More than any other candidate, Mr. Adams built his coalition on a foundation of Black and Latino voters, and the strong support of labor unions. A former police captain, he focused on public safety and on championing the concerns of working-class New Yorkers, while promising to tackle inequality in education, housing and other areas.
“The little guy won,” he said at his primary night party. Mr. Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, leads Maya Wiley, a former counsel to Mayor Bill de Blasio, and Kathryn Garcia, the former sanitation commissioner, in the first round of ranked-choice balloting.
On Sunday, one of the last full days of campaigning, Mr. Adams, 60, appeared at a Black Episcopal Church in Brooklyn in the morning, in Upper Manhattan for a rally with Latino supporters after that, and, at the end of the day, at the scene of a recent shooting in the Bronx that endangered two children’s lives. It was his second trip to the area in 24 hours.
The strategy paid off. Mr. Adams, who is Black, won in huge sections of the Bronx, including neighborhoods like Tremont and University Heights. In Brooklyn, he won close to 70 percent of first-choice votes in many Assembly districts in East New York and Canarsie.
He also won in parts of Queens dominated by middle-class Black families, like Cambria Heights and Springfield Gardens. And while Kathryn Garcia, the former sanitation commissioner, dominated in much of Manhattan, Mr. Adams won in large swaths of Harlem.
Patricia Linen, 62, a paraprofessional who works in the New York City schools, stopped to greet Mr. Adams at a rally in Washington Heights on Primary Day. She said she had voted for him because he sent her masks, gloves and hand sanitizer during the pandemic while she was contending with a cancer diagnosis.
“I’m excited about him being mayor because he has been through what my sons have been through,” said Ms. Linen, who is Black. “We’d have someone who understands us and knows us.”
Even with the final primary results far from decided on Wednesday, one thing was readily apparent: Voter turnout in the race was on track to be robust by New York City standards.
More New Yorkers voted in this year’s Democratic mayoral primary than in the last competitive one, in 2013; 646,000 ballots were cast that year.
The higher turnout suggested that New Yorkers had eventually tuned into a contest that, despite being filled with twists and turns, failed to capture many voters’ attention earlier in the year, as business owners and families focused more on the city’s economic recovery and reopening. The turnout was likely to be higher because of expanded access to voting by mail, a change precipitated by the pandemic that may outlast current conditions.
As of Wednesday at 1:30 a.m., more than 790,000 ballots cast in person had been counted in New York City, according to an Associated Press estimate. There were also many absentee ballots yet to be counted: The Board of Elections sent out more 222,000, with voters returning nearly 91,000 so far and more expected to arrive in the coming days.
That could push the primary turnout past that of the Democratic presidential primary last June, when more than 844,000 votes were cast, accounting for 23.3 percent of the city’s registered Democrats. It is also conceivable that the total number of ballots could near, or even surpass, one million.
Andrew Yang, a former 2020 presidential candidate whose name recognition helped made him an early front-runner in the New York City mayor’s race, conceded on Tuesday night after trailing badly in early vote tallies.
Mr. Yang was joined by his wife, Evelyn, and other supporters, and spoke in a somber tone that contrasted with the enthusiasm and energy that had largely defined his campaign. He reflected on his rise from relative obscurity to public prominence in just three years, a transformation that helped galvanize a group of loyal supporters, often via social media, and gave him a platform in the city.
“Our city was in crisis and we believed we could help,” he told supporters gathered at a Manhattan hotel.
But as a self-described “numbers guy,” he said, the outlook for his campaign was bleak.
“I am not going to be mayor of New York City based on the numbers that have come in tonight,” he said. “I am conceding this race, though we’re not sure ultimately who the next mayor is going to be. Whoever that person is, I will be very happy to work with them to help improve the lives of the 8.3 million people who live in our great city, and I encourage other people to do the same.”
Mr. Yang said he believed his supporters had been drawn to a central message of his campaign: that “politics as usual was not working.” He said he also believed that his campaign had influenced the debate over the priorities that will shape the city’s future. Those, he said, included elevating the discussion of cash relief for families, an issue he also promoted in the 2020 presidential race, and the push to reopen schools. He also said he had helped focus attention on a rise in attacks on people of Asian descent.
He praised his ability to draw many small donors and cited his alliance with Kathryn Garcia, a fellow mayoral candidate and former sanitation commissioner, as a positive.
“I thought we could elevate each other and give New York City a better chance of leadership that I was excited about,” he said.
Mr. Yang was frequently challenged during the campaign by other candidates and journalists over what sometimes appeared to be his loose grasp of some aspects of what city government does.
Mr. Yang acknowledged on Tuesday that “there was so much about New York City” that he did not know.
“I sometimes would come home to Evelyn and say, ‘Hey, have you visited this neighborhood? Have you been here?’” he said, adding that he and his wife would seek to contribute to “public life in New York City and beyond.”
For the first time in a mayor’s race, New York City used a system called ranked-choice voting.
Instead of picking just one candidate, voters ranked up to five, in order of preference, from a primary ballot that included 13 Democrats.
The next step is complicated. The Board of Elections has collected all the ballots and begun tabulating the votes. Since no candidate got more than 50 percent of the vote, the board will eliminate the last-place finisher.
The voters whose first choice was eliminated will have their second-choice votes counted and allocated to the remaining candidates. The process continues until there is a winner with a majority.
Here’s more information on the ranked-choice ballot and how the rounds of counting will work.
The same system was used for all city elections, including for seats in the New York City Council and the offices of the borough presidents, the public advocate and the New York City comptroller. The race for the Manhattan district attorney, which was a federal election, did not use ranked-choice voting.
Proponents of the system argue that it gives voters more of a say in the leadership of a city like New York, in which crowded primaries are often as important as the general election. It is also more efficient than holding runoff contests.
“One of the many benefits to ranked-choice voting is that it negates the need for multimillion-dollar runoff elections, which usually take place two to three weeks later,” Susan Lerner, the executive director of Common Cause New York, a good government group, said in a recent statement.
Some critics had argued the system was bewilderingly complex and not well understood in some lower-income neighborhoods. But there were few problems reported on Election Day.
The closely fought Democratic race for Manhattan district attorney remained undecided on Wednesday, and it could take at least a week to know who will likely lead the office currently investigating former President Donald J. Trump and his family business.
Alvin Bragg, a former federal prosecutor, had a slight lead over his closest rival, Tali Farhadian Weinstein, with tens of thousands of absentee ballots still to be counted.
The winner of the Democratic nomination will be heavily favored in the general election in November against the Republican nominee, Thomas Kenniff, a former state prosecutor and Iraq war veteran.
Mr. Bragg would be the first Black person to lead the district attorney’s office, which is among the most prominent local prosecutor’s offices in the country. Both leading Democratic candidates have been tight-lipped about the investigation into Mr. Trump and his family, but Mr. Bragg made a habit of telling voters that he sued the former president more than 100 times while working at the New York attorney general’s office.
Ms. Farhadian Weinstein, who was interviewed by Trump administration officials for a possible appointment to a federal judgeship in 2017, has had less to say about Mr. Trump. Legal ethicists have said there is no issue with her having sought the judgeship.
Mr. Bragg and Ms. Farhadian Weinstein have had similar careers and records of accomplishment. He went to Harvard and Harvard Law and was a federal prosecutor in Manhattan. She went to Yale, and Yale Law, and was a federal prosecutor in Brooklyn.
On Tuesday, they split Manhattan almost perfectly in two: Mr. Bragg won most neighborhoods on the borough’s West Side, dominating on the Upper West Side and in Harlem, while Ms. Farhadian Weinstein won big on the East Side, particularly the Upper East Side and in Inwood and Washington Heights.
Both of them beat their six rivals by a significant margin all over the borough, though Ms. Aboushi significantly outperformed expectations, coming in third in almost every district .
Mr. Bragg and Ms. Farhadian Weinstein, who ran on their prosecutorial experience, beat out several candidates with less traditional agendas, like Ms. Aboushi, who had said she would cut the budget of the district attorney’s office in half and stop prosecuting a long list of misdemeanors and some felonies.
Mr. Bragg ran to strike a balance between public safety and civil rights. Ms. Farhadian Weinstein ran a more moderate campaign, with a strong focus on public safety and prosecuting hate crimes and sex crimes. She amplified her message by giving her own campaign at least $8.2 million and raising close to $13 million overall.
The mayor’s race wasn’t the only contest on the ballot during Tuesday’s primary, with several being won outright and others too close to call.
Jumaane Williams, who became public advocate in a special election two years ago, won his primary race outright with 71 percent of the vote, making it almost certain that he will capture a full term in November.
Brad Lander, a member of the City Council, appears likely to win the city comptroller nomination with 31.4 percent of the votes, followed by Council Speaker Corey Johnson at 22.6 percent. Mr. Johnson was a last-minute addition to the race, announcing his bid for comptroller in March.
As in the mayoral primary, final results in the races for borough president, which are also using ranked-choice voting, may not be known for sometime. Still, several leaders quickly emerged.
In the Bronx, Vanessa Gibson, a City Council member, holds an initial lead of 39.4 percent, while in Brooklyn, Council Member Antonio Reynoso has a comfortable lead of 28.2 percent of the votes.
Mark Levine, also a member of the City Council leads the race for Manhattan’s president with a narrow 28.7 percent of the vote over Brad Hoylman, a New York state senator, with 25.7 percent.
The races in Queens and Staten Island were much closer. In Queens, the incumbent, Donovan Richards, who won the spot in a special election in 2020, was closely followed by Elizabeth Crowley. He won 41.7 percent of the vote, while Ms. Crowley captured 40.4 percent.
In the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens, the Democratic winner will be the overwhelming favorite in the general election. Not so in Staten Island, a Republican stronghold.
In the Republican primary, former Congressman Vito Fossella was running neck and neck with Councilman Steven Matteo, with 42.5 percent to Mr. Matteo’s 41.3 percent. On the Democratic side, Mark Murphy had a sizable lead with 46.8 percent of the vote.
Precious Fondren and
Curtis Sliwa, who won New York’s Republican primary for mayor on Tuesday night, addressed supporters and the news media on Wednesday morning in a speech that ranged from jubilant optimism to pointed and angry criticism of the Democratic candidates, including Eric Adams, who is leading in his party’s primary.
“Although I am happy to be the Republican nominee and certainly earned my right to be the standard-bearer, I am also an independent candidate in the general election,” Mr. Sliwa said, standing outside WABC Studio in Manhattan.
Invoking the tough-on-crime stance characteristic of his campaign and his career as the founder of the Guardian Angels, Mr. Sliwa called for hiring more New York City police officers and providing them with more benefits. He also said that he would not accept private protection from the New York Police Department, criticizing Democratic candidates who had called to redirect funds from police departments while hiring private security for themselves.
“If they’re going to defund the police and deprive citizens of protection in the subways and the streets,” he said, “then let me be the first to say I want no police security whatsoever.”
A longtime animal lover who owns 15 rescue cats, Mr. Sliwa also called for permanently closing all kill shelters in the city before going on to mention some of his cats by name, along with a brief description of their personalities.
Asked about how he would handle the general election, Mr. Sliwa said he would work with various organizations and elected officials across the political spectrum.
He also said he would go after Mr. Adams’s stance on qualified immunity. Mr. Adams, the Brooklyn borough president and a former police captain, has said the legal policy that shields police officers from most civil lawsuits should be removed. Mr. Sliwa called that lack of support for the policy “a sin against his brothers and sisters in blue.”
“I’ve known Eric and I’m certainly going to take him to task,” Mr. Sliwa said. “And I’m going to ask him to join me in solidarity if, in fact, he turns out to be the winner of the Democratic primary process.”
The United Federation of Teachers, the city’s teachers’ union, has a decades-long losing streak in backing candidates for mayor, a track record that continued apace Tuesday night, with its chosen candidate, Scott M. Stringer, falling far behind the pack in the first round of voting.
Its choice to replace Mr. Stringer as the city’s comptroller, Corey Johnson, also has a big gap to surmount if he hopes to overcome the front-runner, Councilman Brad Lander. Its only consolation was a number of candidates for City Council who notched victories on Tuesday night.
“While the primary results are not complete, we want to congratulate the U.F.T.-endorsed candidates for the City Council and other offices who have already won their races,” said Alison Gendar, a spokeswoman for the union. “A candidate’s record on public education will always be our most important consideration, and we are proud to back — win or lose — those who make the public schools and students their first priority.”
The 200,000-person union stood by Mr. Stringer, even after two women came forward to allege sexual misconduct from decades ago. The union, which has not endorsed a winning mayoral candidate since 1989, even backed a super PAC effort on his behalf called NY4Kids, which spent more than $4 million to boost Mr. Stringer’s campaign.
Neither Mr. Stringer nor Mr. Johnson has formally conceded.
That has a lot to do with ranked-choice voting. This year, voters in New York City were able to rank up to five candidates for mayor and comptroller, in order of preference. The first-round results were released Tuesday night, and they would seem to bode ill for Mr. Stringer and Mr. Johnson: With 96.62 percent of voting scanners reporting, Mr. Stringer won 5.03 percent of the vote; Mr. Johnson did better in his race, with 22.54 percent, but still significantly behind Mr. Lander, at 31.31 percent.
While Mr. Stringer had the support of the union, Mr. Adams had the support of the charter school movement, in the form of a super PAC run by Jenny Sedlis, who is on leave from a charter school advocacy group, Students First NY, and co-founded Success Academy. Her PAC, in turn, was funded by charter-school supporters.
After the pandemic laid bare systemic inequities, and more than a year after the murder of George Floyd kicked off urgent conversations about police reform, Tuesday’s primary served as a test of how well the left wing of the Democratic Party could harness that energy and make gains at the ballot box.
And progressive candidates appeared to show strength around the city and state, even though a more moderate candidate, Eric Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, has so far earned the most votes in the mayor’s race.
Because of ranked-choice voting, the results of many elections remain uncertain. But progressives appeared to be leading or poised to win a number of races.
In a City Council race in Queens, Tiffany Cabán, who narrowly lost a primary race in 2019 for district attorney in the borough, was leading by a wide margin with the backing of the Democratic Socialists of America and the Working Families Party, a progressive political party.
Two other candidates backed by the Working Families Party also won primaries for open City Council seats: Marjorie Velázquez in the Bronx and Jennifer Gutiérrez in Brooklyn and Queens. Sandy Nurse, a carpenter and community organizer, and Alexa Avilés, backed by the D.S.A., both led by relatively wide margins in their primaries.
“Even before all the results are tallied, we already know that New York will have more diverse, young and progressive leaders representing our city than ever before — an undeniable sign that our message is resonating,” said Monica Klein, a progressive political consultant.
Brad Lander, a City Council member who was endorsed by the Working Families Party and progressive politicians like Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, is leading in the city comptroller race. In the Manhattan district attorney’s race, Alvin Bragg appeared to lead Tali Farhadian Weinstein, considered a more moderate candidate.
In Buffalo, India B. Walton, a Democratic Socialist who has called for safeguarding undocumented immigrants and ending the role of police officers in responding to mental health emergencies, won an upset over the four-term incumbent Democrat, Byron Brown, a close ally of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. Ms. Walton would become the first socialist mayor of a major American city since 1960.
James Estrin/The New York Times
Hilary Swift for The New York Times
Gabriela Bhaskar/The New York Times
Andrew Seng for The New York Times
Dave Sanders for The New York Times
Sarah Blesener for The New York Times
Drinks, hugs, selfies and dancing — along with a surprising concession from Andrew Yang — brought a long Primary Day to a close. Candidates and supporters attended election parties around New York on Tuesday night.
When New York City’s mayor leaves office at the end of the year, more than half the members of the City Council will follow him out the door, leaving a city still finding its footing after the pandemic in the untested hands of a freshly elected mayor and a legislative body packed with newcomers.
It was largely unclear which newcomers those would be: The outcome of many races in Tuesday’s primary was still unknown, although a handful of incumbents seeking re-election coasted to easy victories.
In most of the races — which are crowded with candidates vying for open seats — no winner was expected to be declared. Absentee ballots have yet to be counted (more than 200,000 were requested), and ranked-choice selections still need to be tabulated. Official results from the Board of Elections are not likely until mid-July.
But the Council is guaranteed to have an overhaul after November’s general election, with all 51 seats on the ballot, and a new officeholder guaranteed in 32 of them.
The Council’s large turnover comes in large part from term limits that prevent members who have served at least two terms from running again, though a handful of them were on Tuesday’s ballot seeking a different office.
Many of the incumbents seeking re-election faced primary challengers. A handful of them are relatively new to the job, having only won special elections earlier this year, and faced challengers that they just recently edged out.
The Council’s top job will also be open: The current speaker, Corey Johnson, was running for city comptroller and is leaving office. The Council’s members choose their leader, who plays a key role in setting the Council’s agenda and negotiating with the mayor over the city budget. Electing a speaker will be one of the first ways that the winners of Council seats will exert their influence, Mr. Johnson said.
“The Council is going to have to do real oversight over new commissioners that are going to be chosen by whoever the mayor is,” Mr. Johnson said. “So it’s a hugely consequential election.”