Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said Thursday that he would balance public safety with fair policing and take Republican nominee Curtis Sliwa “to task” if his lead in New York’s Democratic mayoral primary holds.
Mr. Adams is out in front, but New York’s new ranked-choice system must still play out.
“We feel good — really. The process is going to run its course,” Mr. Adams told New York’s Fox 5. “Now, it’s up to the bean-counters to do their job.”
Nearly 32% of city Democrats selected Mr. Adams as their first-choice for mayor Tuesday, putting him in a strong position to edge out liberal Maya Wiley and former city Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, who received 22% and 19% of the No. 1 vote, respectively.
Elections officials in the coming days and weeks will eliminate candidates from the bottom of the field and reallocate their votes based on ballots that allowed voters to rank their top five preferences.
Mr. Adams vowed to carry his focus on minority, working-class populations in the outer boroughs into the mayor’s office.
“It was a clear message that I wanted to send,” he said. “My nails are not polished. I have callouses on my hands.”
He said reducing crime will remain his focus, but he won’t allow police to abuse a controversial “stop-and-frisk” policy by profiling people by race. He also said Mr. Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels safety patrol group, might understand public safety, but there are economic and educational needs that need tending, too.
“Curtis can wear the red beret and do what he’s doing, but right now, we need a well-trained mayor who understands this city,” Mr. Adams said.
Mr. Sliwa easily defeated restaurateur Fernando Mateo on the Republican ballot, but the Democratic nominee in the liberal city is considered the most likely person to succeed Mayor Bill de Blasio in City Hall.
The crowded Democratic field put a spotlight on a ranked-choice voting system, which is used in other U.S. cities and other countries but made its debut in New York City, enthusing some and confusing others.
Voters who spoke to The Washington Times on the Upper West Side of Manhattan had trouble at times recalling the five candidates they selected and in what order.
One woman said Tuesday it was a bit “ridiculous.” Others said they had a single candidate in mind so the rest of their choices were superfluous. Voters told The Times it wasn’t hard to figure out the system, despite reports that some people found it difficult.
“It didn’t bother me because I’ve got a brain,” said Warren Kishner, a broadcast engineer who ranked Obama administration Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan first and businessman Andrew Yang second.
Mr. Yang conceded late Tuesday after receiving about 12% of first-choice votes — a disappointing showing after he parlayed his 2020 presidential bid and quirky campaign into generous media attention.
Ms. Wiley, a former counsel to Mr. de Blasio, has refused to concede. She said she will see what happens as the process plays out.
“This is democracy in action. I’m confident in the ranked-choice voting process, and we expect the momentum to only grow from here,” she tweeted.
Ms. Garcia offered some reflection on the campaign as she waited.
“Running for office is not easy,” Ms. Garcia tweeted. “While there are still many votes to be counted, I want to take a moment to acknowledge the entire field of candidates — especially the women who ran.”
Analysts say Ms. Wiley and Ms. Garcia could defeat Mr. Adams as officials count absentee ballots and, starting Tuesday, eliminate candidates and reallocate votes based on rankings until two candidates are left.
It will be tough, however. Either candidate would have to be ranked higher than Mr. Adams on more than 60% of ballots if they make it to a final showdown with the Brooklyn president, according to a New York Times analysis.
A group that promotes ranked-choice voting, FairVote, said Mr. Adams is the only candidate in the top-three rankings of more than half of the voters. Mr. Adams could have won outright if he received a majority of the No. 1 vote on Tuesday, though he is in a strong position to triumph.
When ranked-choice contests go to multiple rounds, only about 12% result in a come-from-behind winner, said Khalid Pitts, FairVote’s executive vice president for policy and programs.
FairVote said about 10 million Americans have access to ranked-choice voting, including 23 cities across the country in red and blue states. Virginia Republicans used the system at their nominating convention in May. The organization said the process is catching on because it reduces the chance of “spoiler” candidates who split the vote among more viable candidates in large, multicandidate fields.
“It’s the most popular election reform in the country right now,” Mr. Pitts said. “Despite massive polarization and gridlock on almost every reform, the number of Americans with access to ranked-choice voting has increased sevenfold since 2010. This is huge. Voters from every party and background tend to embrace it because all it does is fix an inherent problem in our elections. Whenever two candidates run for office, our current elections work. But when you add a third candidate, our entire election system breaks down.”
“We expect ranked-choice voting to be the norm for the rest of the country before long,” he said.