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New York City Narrows The Democratic Field For Mayor With Eric Adams Taking The Lead

Updated June 23, 2021 at 9:09 AM ET

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams took the lead in the Democratic primary for New York City's mayoral race Tuesday, but it will still take weeks to produce an official winner. For now, Maya Wiley sits in second place, followed by Kathryn Garcia.

For the first time, New Yorkers are choosing their mayor in a ranked-choice system, with voters ranking their top five candidates in order of preference. A plurality of Democrats chose Adams as their frontrunner, according to unofficial results from the New York City Board of Elections.

Adams received 31.7% of the vote Tuesday, with more than 253,000 voters selecting him as their top choice. But since no candidate earned more than 50% of first-choice votes from Democrats, counting will continue in weekly rounds.

At the end of each round, the last-place candidate is eliminated and voters who chose that candidate will have their vote counted instead for their second choice. Officials say the elimination and redistribution process is expected to stretch well into July.

Because New York City leans Democratic, the primary winner is highly favored to take over Gracie Mansion after the general election.

Eric Adams leads Primary Night

As results came in Tuesday night, the former police captain celebrated, basking in his expected lead.

"New York City said our first choice is Eric Adams," he told a roomful of supporters.

In a race that began in the midst of the pandemic, and ended as the city saw a spike in gun violence, the former cop ran hard on a promise to reform policing while fighting crime.

"You don't know this. I know this. I'm going to keep my city safe," he said.

Maya Wiley hopes to move up from second

The next-closest finisher behind Adams is progressive Democrat Maya Wiley, who offered voters a vastly different approach to public safety. She has pledged to reallocate $1 billion of the police department's $6 billion budget.

"You must also be accountable to every single one of us, because this is not a false choice," she said.

She received 22% of votes.

During the campaign, Wiley gained the endorsements of progressive New Yorkers Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortezand Jamaal Bowman.

Kathryn Garcia rounds out the race and Andrew Yang concedes

Third-place-finisher Kathryn Garcia said the public and media shouldn't count her campaign out just yet.

Garcia received 19.5% of the vote Tuesday.

Since the final tallies will transfer votes to frontrunners as last place finishers get eliminated, she believes the race is still wide open.

"This is going to be about not only the 1s. But also about the 2s and 3s and to be honest, we're not going to know more tonight than we know now," she said referring to the ranked-choice system.

With only 11.7% of votes, former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang will not be moving on to the next stage in his campaign.

Yang conceded after 11 p.m. Tuesday, saying he couldn't win the nomination with the numbers he had.

He said in his speech, "Our city was in crisis and we believed we could help."

How the numbers could shift

Absentee and affidavit ballots have yet to be counted in the race, according to the elections board. As of Wednesday morning, the city had received nearly 87,000 Democratic absentee ballots, out of more than 200,000 that were distributed.

Those ballots are still coming in: the deadline for absentee votes to arrive is June 29, as long as they bear a postmark no later than election day.

The ranked-choice system will also shake the numbers up, as new rounds of vote-counting will be held each Tuesday until a candidate crosses the 50% threshold.
Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.