BROOKLYN, N.Y. (AP) — Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams
is leading the Democratic primary
for mayor of New York City
, with ballots still being counted as of Tuesday night.
In New York City's newly implemented ranked-choice voting
system, another candidate may emerge ahead of Adams in later rounds as less formidable opponents are eliminated; the final outcome may not be known for weeks.
However, Adams has received a majority of first-choice votes
cast in person, putting him in a strong position to win the primary; absentee ballots have yet to be counted.
Given the city's strong Democratic lean, a victory like this would almost certainly secure him control of City Hall.
Adams, who was born in Brownsville, Brooklyn, and raised in Jamaica
, Queens, would be the city's second Black mayor; David Dinkins served as the city's first Black mayor from 1990 to 1993.
At an election
results party in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Adams told a cheering crowd, "The little guy won today."
Adams, who entered the stage to chants of "The Champ is Here," acknowledged that there would be more rounds of ballot counting before he or any other candidate achieved the outright majority of the electorate required to be declared the winner.
“We know there will be twos, threes, and fours,” he said, “but we also know that New York City said, ‘Our first choice is Eric Adams.’”
Former presidential candidate Andrew Yang
, who was once Adams' main rival, conceded the race earlier in the night after preliminary results showed him finishing a distant fourth place.
“I am a numbers guy. I am someone who trades in what is happening by the numbers,” Yang told supporters, “and based on the numbers that have come in tonight, I will not be the next mayor of New York City.”
Adams owes his victory to an outer-borough coalition of working- and middle-class Black and Latino voters
, union members, and moderate white residents, whom he campaigned as a “blue-collar mayor” capable of taming a spike in violent crime
He also had the support of Wall Street billionaires
, who contributed millions of dollars to a super PAC
supporting his campaign.
Adams' rise through established political institutions, reliance on traditional interest groups, and penchant for horse trading signal a revival of machine-style politics
in an era of progressive firebrands, self-funders, and media-driven personalities.
“He represents the old party,” said David Schleicher, a Yale law
professor and Manhattan
resident who studies New York City politics. “In a low-turnout election dominated by frequent voters, a kind of traditional style of politics is the successful strategy,” he said.
Adams, a former police captain and reform advocate within the New York Police Department
, has made reducing the rising number of shootings
and murders in the city's low-income, non-white neighborhoods a central focus of his campaign since the beginning.
Adams is a liberal by 1990s standards, as a Black man who was beaten by police as a teenager and a former cop who was critical of the NYPD
's overly broad use of "stop-and-frisk" prior to 2014.
The former state senator emphasizes the importance of both “prevention” efforts to provide young people
with opportunities that reduce their likelihood of criminality and more immediate “intervention,” such as increased patrols in high-crime areas and increased gun arrests.
Regardless, tough-on-crime rhetoric became the hallmark of Adams' campaign, irritating progressives
eager to turn last summer's Black Lives Matter
protests into bold reforms and deeper NYPD budget
However, as the COVID-19 pandemic
faded and violent crime surpassed the city's reopening as voters' top priority, Adams' bet on public safety paid off.
“Democratic voters, particularly minority voters, were looking for a criminal justice
strategy that combines justice and security
,” said Bruce Gyory, a Democratic strategist in New York, adding that “his positioning was perfectly tapered to the mood of the electorate.”
He has the necessary experience and knowledge.
Gladys Stackhouse, a Crown Heights resident, voted in the election.
Gladys Stackhouse, a Black law student in Crown Heights, ranked Adams first, citing gun violence
as her main worry.
Stackhouse stated, "He has the experience and background knowledge."
In response to the recent increase in gun violence, she stated, "If anyone can do it out of all those candidates, I believe he can."
If the results are confirmed, Adams will have defeated seven other major candidates: Yang, former sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia
, civil rights
attorney Maya Wiley
, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer
, former US Housing
and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan
, former nonprofit executive Dianne Morales, and former Citigroup senior executive Ray McGuire
Yang initially led in public polls due to his name recognition from the 2020 presidential campaign, his openness to the press, and his upbeat demeanor.
However, as the campaign progressed, the founder of a successful test prep company came under intense media scrutiny, and his massive online presence made him a fatter target for progressives wary of his ties to big business
Tusk, as well as his pro-Israel remarks and other gestures aimed at courting New York City's more conservative Democrats
More than anything, Yang, who spent the height of the pandemic in his second home in New Paltz, New York, and had never previously voted in a city election, failed to demonstrate a knowledge of city politics capable of reassuring voters wary of his inexperience.
Peter Mancini, a public-school teacher and real-estate broker in Brooklyn's Bay Ridge neighborhood, voted for Adams after hearing police officers he knows speak highly of him.
Adams, he says, "seems to be the most genuine of them all."
“He doesn't seem to be 'city' enough,” Mancini said of Yang.
I did what was necessary to demonstrate that I am a Brooklynite.
Eric Adams is a writer
from the United States
Disappointed by the difficulties befalling their preferred candidates, Wiley, Stringer, and Morales, progressives argued whether Yang or Adams was more objectionable.
Proponents of ranking Yang fifth and leaving out Adams argued that his inexperience in politics would make him more vulnerable to progressive pressure and more open to left-wing ideas.
Those who preferred to rank Adams last and leave Yang out pointed out that Adams did, at the very least, have a base of working-class voters on his side.
“He has a genuine, durable base of support among real human beings in this city,” wrote Matt Thomas, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America’s New York City chapter, in a statement. “If he wins, it will be proof of concept that politics is still possible in New York.”
Despite the fact that ranked-choice voting is intended to make campaigns less negative, the final stretch of the mayoral primary was a bloodbath.
Yang and Garcia started campaigning together on Saturday in a last-minute bid to gain support from each other's core voters, but the arrangement was uneven: while Yang instructed his supporters to rank Garcia second, Garcia did not reciprocate.
Nonetheless, it was enough to enrage Adams, who accused the pair of attempting to prevent a “person of color” from winning, despite Yang’s Asian American
heritage. Adams and his allies went even further, alleging a plot to suppress the votes of Black and Latino New Yorkers who support Adams.
“We know Andrew Yang is a liar. We don’t care about Andrew Yang,” Adams said Monday.
Yang, for his part, seized on Adams' ethics scandals, which had prompted a "rare trifecta" of federal, state, and local investigations, and he noted that Adams' own labor
union, the Captains Endowment Association, had endorsed him, and he instructed his supporters to omit Adams from their ballots entirely.
The Yang campaign even aired a TV commercial criticizing Adams for being a registered Republican
in the late 1990s and being the subject of "decades of corruption
Following a Politico
report that suggested Adams might be splitting his time between Brooklyn Borough Hall and his girlfriend's home in Fort Lee, New Jersey
, rather than living full-time in a Brooklyn residence, Adams gave reporters a tour of a ground-floor Brooklyn apartment he owns.
“I couldn’t care less what they write or say,” he told Vanity Fair, adding, “I did what I needed to do to prove I’m a Brooklynite.”
Apart from a focus on crime reduction, it is unclear what an Adams mayoralty will entail.
For all that his political style is traditional, his personality is eccentric. He has mused about ditching his security detail and carrying a handgun at City Hall. Faced with losing his eyesight due to Type 2 diabetes
, he embraced a vegan
diet and became an evangelist for healthy eating habits, which he promises to continue promoting as the Big Apple
Adams' stated agenda as mayor is a mash-up of mainstream liberal ideas, including removing regulatory barriers to building more housing stock in wealthy neighborhoods, expanding the tax credit for low- and middle-income families, and introducing more meditation and mindfulness programs in city schools
Most analysts believe Adams will take a business-friendly approach and appoint political allies to key positions at City Hall, including a number of term-limited city council members who endorsed him.
Whatever agenda Adams pursues, his deep political networks and stable coalition of churches, unions
, and other interest groups will almost certainly give him enormous power to carry it out.
“For the last 40 years, New York City politics has been driven by individuals,” Schleicher said, adding that “he’s going in a different direction, for better or worse.”