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Adams Takes Fragile Lead in NYC Primary06/23 06:04


   NEW YORK (AP) -- Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams appeared to take a 
fragile lead Tuesday in New York City's Democratic mayoral primary, but it 
could be weeks before it becomes clear who is actually on top in the first 
citywide election to use ranked choice voting.

   As ballot counting began Tuesday, a plurality of Democrats ranked Adams as 
their first choice in the race.

   It was tough to tell, though, whether that lead would hold. As many as 
207,500 absentee ballots remained to be counted. Voters' full rankings of the 
candidates have yet to be taken into account. It could be July before a winner 
emerges in the Democratic contest.

   Adams, a former police captain who co-founded a leadership group for Black 
officers, was leading former city sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia and 
former de Blasio administration lawyer Maya Wiley.

   Speaking to jubilant supporters, Adams acknowledged that he hadn't won yet, 
and that under the ranked choice system there were multiple rounds of ballot 
counting still to go.

   "We know that there's going to be twos and threes and fours," he said. "But 
there's something else we know. We know that New York City said, 'Our first 
choice is Eric Adams.'"

   Former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, who was far behind in early 
returns, conceded about two hours after polls closed and vowed to work with the 
next mayor.

   In the Republican primary, Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa defeated 
businessman Fernando Mateo. Ranked choice voting wasn't a factor because there 
were only two candidates in the race.

   Several candidates in the race to succeed Mayor Bill de Blasio have the 
potential to make history if elected. The city could get its first female 
mayor, or its second Black mayor, depending on who comes out on top.

   But in the Democratic contest, the initial picture could be misleading. 
After polls closed at 9 p.m., New York City's Board of Elections began 
releasing results of votes cast in person, but the returns focused on who 
candidates ranked as their first choice.

   The ranked choice system, approved for use in New York City primaries and 
special elections by referendum in 2019, allowed voters to rank up to five 
candidates on their ballot.

   Vote tabulation is then done in computerized rounds, with the person in last 
place getting eliminated each round, and ballots cast for that person getting 
redistributed to the surviving candidates based on voter rankings. That process 
continues until only two candidates are left. The one with the most votes wins.

   It won't be until June 29 that the Board of Elections performs a tally of 
those votes using the new system. It won't include any absentee ballots in its 
analysis until July 6, making any count before then potentially unreliable.

   Among the votes counted on election night, Adams trailed both Garcia and 
Wiley when voters listed their second, third and fourth choices in the ranked 
choice voting system.

   Besides Adams, Garcia, Wiley and Yang, other contenders in the Democratic 
contest included City Comptroller Scott Stringer, former U.S. Secretary of 
Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan, former Citigroup executive Ray 
McGuire and nonprofit executive Dianne Morales.

   Stringer, McGuire and Morales addressed supporters after polls closed as 
early returns showed them trailing the front-runners but did not immediately 

   De Blasio, a Democrat, leaves office at the end of the year due to term 

   The candidates traveled around the city Tuesday doing a last round of 

   Wiley was losing her voice greeting voters near her polling place in 
Brooklyn. Garcia campaigned up in the Bronx, while Sliwa and Stringer bumped 
into each other campaigning in Manhattan.

   A still hoarse Wiley acknowledged the uncertainty of the race in a speech 
later. "What we celebrate today is that we have a path," she said.

   Garcia told her supporters, "I know that we're not going to know a lot more 
tonight, so I want to thank everyone who is here, and everyone who has been a 
part of this journey."

   Concern over a rise in shootings during the pandemic has dominated the 
mayoral campaign in recent months, even as the candidates have wrestled with 
demands from the left for more police reform.

   As a former officer, but one who spent his career fighting racism within the 
department, Adams may have benefited most from the policing debate.

   He denounced the "defund the police" slogan and proposed reinstating a 
disbanded plainclothes unit to focus on getting illegal guns off the streets.

   Wiley and Stringer, battling for progressive votes, both said they would 
reallocate a portion of the police department's budget to other city programs.

   Of the top contenders, either Garcia or Wiley would be city's first female 
mayor if elected. Adams or Wiley would be the second Black mayor.

   Yang and Garcia formed an alliance in the campaign's last days in an 
apparent effort to use the ranked voting system to block Adams. The two held 
several joint campaign events, with Yang asking his supporters to rank Garcia 
as their No. 2 -- though Garcia did not quite return the favor, not telling her 
voters where to rank Yang. Adams accused his two rivals of purposely trying to 
block a Black candidate.

   Sliwa does not have much of a chance to win the November general election in 
a city where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by 7 to 1.

   Former allies, the two Republicans Sliwa and Mateo traded personal insults 
and tried to shout over each other during one debate on Zoom.

   Sliwa, a radio host who still wears his red Guardian Angels beret when he 
appears in public, got an endorsement from former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who 
called him "my great friend" in a robocall to Republican voters.

   Flanked by Giuliani at his victory party, Sliwa promised a general election 
campaign focused on crime. "This is going to be a campaign clearly in which I 
talk about cracking down on crime, supporting the police, refunding our heroes 
the police, hiring more police, taking the handcuffs off the police and putting 
it on the criminals, and restoring qualified immunity to the police so that 
they can't be personally sued," he said.

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