NYC’s Wiley Concedes After Democratic Primary Called for Adams

Civil rights lawyer and progressive favorite Maya Wiley conceded the race to be New York City’s next mayor on Wednesday, a day after the Democratic primary was called for rival Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.

Wiley fell to third place from second after seven rounds of ranked-choice voting, trailing former city sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia by just 350 votes. Adams won the primary with 50.5%, while Garcia got 49.5%, after eight rounds of a counting process that took weeks. The top two were separated by just 8,426 votes.

“What happened in this race is more than an election. What we did together was simply a movement,” Wiley said in a concession speech outside the Lucerne Hotel in Manhattan, which has been temporarily used to shelter homeless New Yorkers. “I’m also standing here to say how grateful I am.”

Wiley congratulated Adams on his victory, noting that he is poised to be only the second Black mayor of the most populous U.S. city. Wiley would have been the city’s first female mayor.

“To every girl in this city, we did shatter the glass ceiling. The glass ceiling that said women would be discounted. The glass ceiling that said we can’t be seen as leaders and I think we demonstrated that that isn’t true,” she said during her speech.

The June 22 primary election marked the first time the city has used a ranked-choice voting system for a race of this size, allowing voters to select up to five candidates in order of preference. But the process did not go smoothly, as an error by the city’s Board of Elections partway through the tally threw ballot counting into disarray.

“It would be an understatement to express dismay at the BOE’s administration of this election,” Wiley said in a statement Tuesday. “We simply must recommit ourselves to a reformed Board of Elections and build new confidence in how we administer voting in New York City. New York City’s voters deserve better, and the BOE must be completely remade following what can only be described as a debacle.”

Wiley climbed in the polls in the last weeks of the campaign thanks to progressive voters who rallied behind her following high-profile endorsements by New York’s U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, as well as Senator Elizabeth Warren.

“We deserve a New York City that works for everyone,” Ocasio-Cortez said in a Twitter post backing Wiley.

Wiley’s rise showed the power national progressives wielded to influence the city’s election, which presented New Yorkers with a choice between Wiley, who appealed to liberal voters on issues such as economic inequality and criminal justice, and moderates like Adams and Garcia, who focused their campaigns on reducing crime and improving the city’s quality of life.

She said that even though she wasn’t elected as the Democratic primary winner, the progressive movement in the city continues. Wiley didn’t specify what she plans next but said “I’m going nowhere.”

“Our movement was very clear about the fact that we would not tolerate going backwards. We won’t go back to a racist, unconstitutional and ineffective way of simply humiliating Black and Brown New Yorkers,” she said.

Born in Washington, D.C., Wiley’s father was a civil-rights activist. After graduating from Dartmouth College and Columbia Law School, she worked for the NAACP in the 1990s and founded the nonprofit Center for Social Inclusion in 2002. Mayor Bill de Blasio hired her as his counsel in 2014. She resigned in 2016 and then served as the chair of the mayor’s Civilian Complaint Review Board and a commentator on MSNBC.

In addition to the endorsements of a slew of progressives, Wiley was backed by Local 1199 of the Service Employees International Union, which represents health-care workers and whose support for de Blasio helped him win his 2013 mayoral election.

“This is not a moment, it’s a mission,” she said during her concession speech. “And this mission doesn’t end with an election.”

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