NYC Candidate Supporters Gather for Big Debate: Election Update

New York City mayoral candidates will meet Wednesday night for the final televised Democratic debate before the June 22 primary.

Elections officials warned voters that it would be at least a week after the primary until the winner is known. Early voting began June 12, and many voters remain puzzled over a ranked-choice voting system that asks residents to select their top five candidates, rather than choose just one.

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Supporters Gather at 30 Rock

Supporters made their way to 30 Rock, headquarters of NBC, with signs, music and cheers ahead of the mayoral debate.

The eight leading Democrats are due to appear Wednesday night in-person from 7-9 p.m New York time at the debate hosted by WNBC-TV, Telemundo 47/WNJU-TV, Politico, the Citizens Budget Commission and the New York Urban League. It will be the candidates’ last chance to make their pitch to voters and try to stand out in what remains a crowded pack. No audience will be in the studio at Rockefeller Center in Manhattan.

After months of campaigning and millions of dollars spent, there’s no clear frontrunner. While four contenders -- Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adam, former city Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, former presidential candidate Andrew Yang and civil-rights lawyer Maya Wiley -- have traded top spots in recent polls, the data has been inconsistent and the race remains fluid. The introduction of ranked-choice voting also complicates the election. -- Skylar Woodhouse

Adams Backed by Floyd’s Brother

Adams, a 22-year veteran of the New York Police Department, was endorsed for mayor on Wednesday by George Floyd’s brother.

Floyd was killed by a White Minneapolis police officer in May 2020. His death sparked worldwide calls for racial justice, and family members have been outspoken on the issue.

Adams, the frontrunner in recent polls, has talked of being a victim of police brutality as a teenager and then joining the force to push for reform. Adams previously received the endorsement of Abner Louima, a Haitian immigrant who was tortured by Brooklyn officers in 1997. The mother of Eric Garner, a black man who died in 2014 after being put in a chokehold by a NYPD officer, has backed former Citigroup banker Ray McGuire for mayor. -- Henry Goldman

Garcia Stops in Stronghold

Garcia greeted voters in one of her political strongholds on Wednesday, Manhattan’s Upper West Side, rather than visit neighborhoods where polls show she trails her opponents.

“This is all about making sure that everyone gets out to vote,” she said while greeting voters lined up outside Absolute Bagels at 108th Street and Broadway. “It’s not enough to express a preference in the polls.”

Polls show Garcia, the former city sanitation commissioner, doing well in the liberal-voting neighborhood. Alec Barrett, a local Democrat district leader whose club has endorsed city Comptroller and neighborhood resident Scott Stringer, said he expects Garcia to win many neighborhood first- and second-place votes in the ranked-choice election. “She’s succeeded in projecting pragmatism and understanding of how government works,” Barrett said.

Later in the day, Garcia stopped at the site of Julius’ Bar in Greenwich Village, one of the city’s oldest gay establishments, joined by Danny O’Donnell, the first openly gay man to serve in the state Assembly, and promised to create a city Office for LGBTQ+ Affairs if elected. -- Henry Goldman

Second-Choice Picks

Candidates looking for clues to how people will vote with a ranked-choice system may find them in the WNBC/Telemundo 47/Politico/Marist Poll conducted June 3-9.

Adams isn’t just polling high for first-choice picks, but is also the most popular second choice: Adams was the second pick among likely Democratic primary voters who named Stringer, McGuire and Yang as their first choice.

The big exception were respondents who ranked Garcia first and named Wiley second, and vice versa. For those who named Adams as their first choice, Yang was their most common second choice. Likely Democratic primary voters ranked an average of 2.8 candidates, the poll found.

With ranked-choice voting, candidates who are broadly liked may benefit from being listed as a second or third choice, even if they are not the first choice of a majority of voters. It is possible for a candidate who initially comes in second or third place to emerge as the winner after candidates are disqualified. -- Stacie Sherman

Protesters Storm Adams Event

An Adams campaign event to release a new ad was disrupted by protesters Wednesday, leading supporters to break out in a chanting dual. The clash brought the event to an end as Adams tried to escape while protesters trailed behind.

“If you focus on the hecklers you are going to miss the supporters, so we don’t worry about hecklers,” Adams said. “This is what New York is about, and if you try to stop that you are taking away the energy of New York.”

The protesters, which included members of the Alliance for Quality Education, encouraged voters to not rank Adams on their ballot.

Adams, meanwhile, touted his resume in his new ad.

“We need a mayor that has gone through a lot, so they can help New Yorkers who are going through a lot,” Adams said in his ad. -- Skylar Woodhouse

De Blasio on Race to Replace Him

Mayor Bill de Blasio said many of the Democratic candidates’ plans for the city would continue or expand upon policies enacted by his administration, “even if they don’t want to admit it.”

“It was very entertaining in the debates to hear people talk about things we should do as a city that we’re already doing,” de Blasio, who is term limited, said in a conversation with former deputy mayor Howard Wolfson that was published by Bloomberg Opinion on Wednesday. “I think they have bought in to the vast majority of the core policies of my administration, even if they don’t want to admit it.”

With less than a week until the election, de Blasio said he has not decided whether to endorse a candidate or who will be on his ballot. At a debate earlier this month, all of the top candidates except Yang said they didn’t want de Blasio’s backing. And in a recent Emerson College poll, few voters said his endorsement would make them more likely to support a candidate. -- Stacie Sherman

Donovan Focuses on NYC Housing Woes

Shaun Donovan, former city Housing Commissioner and U.S. Housing Secretary, said the city needs a mayor who knows how to tackle its housing crisis.

“What I would do is just as I did when I was housing commissioner, work to make more housing affordable, to grow New York City.” Donovan, 55, said Wednesday during a Bloomberg Television interview.

Donovan also said that the city needs to work effectively between the public and private sector to grow the economy. The mayoral hopeful said the city needs more money to fix the worsening housing problem. New York City faces a lack of affordable living options for low-wage renters.

“We need to bring billions of dollars of aid that’s available right now, get it quickly to our renters, but also to our landlords to keep them afloat and make sure that we avoid that crisis,” Donovan said.

Donovan was the first-choice pick of 4% of respondents in a poll conducted June 7 and 8 by Emerson College. -- Skylar Woodhouse

Counting Delays

The New York City Board of Elections said results of first-choice votes for early voting will be provided in the hour after the polls close at 9 p.m., but “unfortunately we will not be able to do any sort of calculation of the ranked-choice voting until at least a week afterward,” board chairman Frederic Umane said at a Tuesday meeting.

”Understand that it’s a longer process than people are used to, and we are going to do the best we can to provide information when we can, as we get it,” he said.

Umane said that the election board wasn’t able to run the ranked-choice algorithm from the initial information garnered on election night, and will have to wait until all the scanners are returned to the voting machines. Then, the board plans to run the data weekly, and announce on Tuesdays, adding in affidavit, absentee and mail-in ballots thereafter as they come in, he said. -- Gregory Korte

Early Voters Puzzled By Ranked Choice

Early voters making their way to the polls are providing a preliminary look at how residents are responding to a flurry of changes in how people choose their elected officials. This is the first time the city has allowed early voting for a mayor’s race, following a 2019 state law change, and around 50,000 people have cast their ballot in the first few days, according to the city’s election board.

New Yorkers also are encountering a new kind of ballot that asks them to rank their top five choices. The system is meant for voters to get more of a say in deciding the ultimate winner, but some voters on Tuesday said it was confusing.

Jerome Narramore, 50, who voted in lower Manhattan Tuesday, only picked one candidate and said that if he had been better educated he may have ranked the candidates. “I think it’s very confusing, they didn’t get the messaging out as to how it actually works for everybody to understand what the impact is to a number two candidate versus a number one candidate,” he said.

Other voters embraced the change but weren’t sure how the ranked system would impact the winner of the race. “I don’t know actually if it gives me more of a choice,” said Naomi Daniels, 48, who voted in lower Manhattan on Tuesday. “I don’t fully understand how that all plays out.”

Daniels, who ranked Garcia and Adams first and second, said she “definitely was a bit apprehensive because it seemed so different from the past, but the ballots were clear and I did some reading before and heard some stuff on the radio, so I felt prepared.”

The city spent $15 million on an education campaign around ranked-choice voting. -- Skylar Woodhouse

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