© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Democratic candidate for New York City Mayor Maya Wiley campaigns with U.S. Representative Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) at the Co-op City housing complex in the Bronx borough of New York City, New York, U.S., June 7, 2021. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Phot
By Joseph Ax and Jonathan Allen
NEW YORK (Reuters) -Former presidential candidate Andrew Yang conceded on Tuesday that he would not win the Democratic nomination for New York City mayor, as early results indicated the race has narrowed to a trio of candidates.
Speaking to supporters less than two hours after polls closed, Yang, an entrepreneur whose surprisingly durable presidential run made him a national figure, said the preliminary vote counts made it clear he could not prevail.
“I am a numbers guy,” said Yang, once seen as the front-runner. “And I am not going to be the next mayor of New York City based on upon the numbers that have come in tonight.”
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams led a field of 13 Democratic candidates seeking to lead the city’s arduous recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, but the winner may still not be known for several weeks. Tuesday’s results reflected only the first choices of voters who cast ballots in person.
The primary contest is the city’s first mayoral campaign to use ranked-choice voting, in which voters can rank up to five candidates in order of preference. Election officials cannot finish a full tabulation of those preferences until they have processed tens of thousands of absentee ballots.
With more than 575,000 votes tallied, Adams, a former police captain, was ranked as the first choice on 31% of ballots.
Maya Wiley, the former MSNBC analyst and civil rights lawyer who emerged as the leading liberal candidate, was in second place with 21%, edging out Kathryn Garcia, the former sanitation chief who campaigned as an experienced technocrat, by less than one percentage point.
Yang was in fourth place with around 12%. Nine other candidates were in single digits or lower.
The winner of Tuesday’s Democratic contest to succeed term-limited Mayor Bill de Blasio will be an overwhelming favorite in November’s general election, given the city’s heavily Democratic lean. Curtis Sliwa, the founder of the Guardian Angels civilian patrol group, held an early lead in the Republican primary against businessman Fernando Mateo.
Voters also were choosing among eight Democratic candidates seeking to replace retiring Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. The nominee, who will be all but guaranteed to win November’s general election, would inherit Vance’s criminal probe into former President Donald Trump’s business empire.
The next mayor will confront deep challenges, including wealth inequality, police accountability, a lack of affordable housing and a struggling tourism industry in the United States’ most populous city.
The unusually fluid campaign was dominated by the issue of public safety, as the city confronts a surge in shootings amid an ongoing national debate over policing.
The leading moderate candidates – Adams, Garcia and Yang – all called for increased police resources.
Wiley, by contrast, proposed cutting $1 billion from the nearly $6 billion New York police budget, redirecting the funding instead to other services, such as mental health counseling.
Any of the top three candidates would make history: Adams as the city’s second Black mayor, Garcia as the first female mayor and Wiley as the first Black female mayor.
The new system of ranked-choice voting operates as a series of instant runoffs. With no candidate exceeding 50% among first-choice ballots, the candidate in last place will be eliminated, and his or her votes redistributed to the voters’ second choices.
The process will repeat until there are only two candidates left, and the winner is the one with a majority of ballots.
The Board of Elections intends to announce the first round of ranked-choice results from its tabulation of in-person votes on June 29 and plans to release a second round that includes some absentee ballots a week later. Final results are expected the week of July 12, after the deadline for voters to fix, or “cure,” deficient ballots has passed.
At a polling station in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene neighborhood, voters generally welcomed the new system, though some conceded they felt pressure to do more homework than usual to reach five choices.
“Once you sit and down and read everything, then it’s actually pretty easy,” said Meg Vasu, a 30-year-old attorney.
She ranked Wiley first after coming away impressed by her performance in the mayoral debates.
“I felt that she was the best progressive choice for the city,” Vasu said.
Michael Hartman, a 41-year-old lawyer, said he ranked Garcia first, in part based on endorsements by the New York Times and the New York Daily News.
“I think she is the most competent candidate,” he said. “She has tremendous depth of experience.”
Like some other voters, he approached his ballot strategically, ranking Wiley but leaving off Adams and Yang, whom he disliked as candidates.
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