Posted on June 24, 2021

How Adams Built a Diverse Coalition That Put Him Ahead in the Mayor’s Race

Emma G. Fitzsimmons, New York Times, June 23, 2021

Eric Adams’s strong showing in New York City’s Democratic primary for mayor reflected his ability to build an old-school political coalition that united Black and Latino voters with unions.

He was able to persuade working-class people, largely outside Manhattan, that he was the best candidate to make the city safe from crime and return it to economic health. But even as he held a 75,000-vote lead on Wednesday night over his closest rival, Maya Wiley, his victory was not assured.

Nearly 70 percent of voters did not choose Mr. Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, as their first choice, and the final outcome will depend on how many of those voters listed him lower on their ballots.

Under the city’s new system of ranked-choice voting, where voters select as many as five candidates in order of preference, thousands of votes will be shifted among the candidates before a final winner is declared. Tens of thousands of absentee ballots must also be counted, and the entire process may take until July 12.

It remains mathematically possible for Mr. Adams’s closest rivals — Ms. Wiley, a former counsel to Mayor Bill de Blasio, or Kathryn Garcia, a former city sanitation commissioner — to still finish first after ranked-choice tabulations, but it seems unlikely, according to voting experts.


If Mr. Adams does win the primary — and the general election in November — he would be the city’s second Black mayor after David N. Dinkins, who was elected in 1989. Ms. Wiley is also Black; she and Ms. Garcia are both seeking to become the first woman to be elected mayor of New York.

Ms. Wiley performed well in some largely Black neighborhoods in Brooklyn and in Astoria and Long Island City in Queens. Ms. Garcia had strong support in Manhattan and parts of Brownstone Brooklyn.

But Mr. Adams, who ran as a moderate, led in every borough except Manhattan, and did particularly well in the Bronx. In some parts of the city like Jamaica in Southeast Queens, Mr. Adams won more than 60 percent of votes, compared with 15 percent for Ms. Wiley.


Some progressive groups attempted to persuade voters to leave Mr. Adams off their ballots; Ms. Garcia made several appearances late in the campaign with Andrew Yang, a rival candidate, in a bid to be ranked by his supporters.

On the day of the primary, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the city’s most famous progressive, criticized Mr. Adams and pressed hard for Ms. Wiley.


The fact that three of the candidates who finished in the top four were relatively moderate — Mr. Adams, Ms. Garcia and Mr. Yang, a 2020 presidential candidate — seemed to signal the mood of the city as New Yorkers emerge from the pandemic. A recent rise in gun violence has led to widespread concerns over safety.

But Ms. Wiley received nearly a quarter of first-choice votes, proving that a share of the electorate liked her message of cutting the police budget and focusing on inequality. It is possible that Ms. Wiley, who became the standard-bearer for the left, peaked too late in the race. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez did not endorse Ms. Wiley until the last month of the race after other left-leaning candidates faltered.

If Mr. Adams wins in the coming weeks, his victory could stall the progressive movement’s momentum in New York, reinforcing the idea that rising crime and public safety were of more concern to voters.


Whoever ultimately wins the Democratic primary will face the Republican nominee, Curtis Sliwa, the founder of the Guardian Angels, in November. {snip}

Mr. Adams’s lead reflected a potent outer-borough strategy. His institutional support from the Brooklyn machine and veteran Democrats in Queens and the Bronx likely helped him turn out key constituencies.

Mr. Adams appeared to do well in Latino neighborhoods — a key demographic that he pushed hard to secure with key leaders like Ruben Diaz Jr., the Bronx borough president. In the heavily Latino neighborhood of Mott Haven in the Bronx, for instance, Mr. Adams won more than 45 percent of first-choice votes, compared to less than 20 percent for Ms. Wiley.


As one of the moderate candidates in the Democratic field, Mr. Adams would be a significant departure from Mr. de Blasio in style and substance, though Mr. de Blasio was believed to privately support Mr. Adams in the race.

Mr. de Blasio praised Mr. Adams on Wednesday and said their coalitions were similar.