“I am the face of the new Democratic Party,” Adams told reporters on Thursday morning. “America is saying, we want to have justice and end inequalities."
We know that civil rights attorney Maya Wiley and former sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia haven't conceded, as they wait for absentee ballots to arrive, then for voters' second, third, fourth, and fifth choices to be ranked.
“We’ve known all along that we have strong support in the top rankings,” Wiley said on Wednesday. "We know we can win.”
So, did New York Democrats give their nomination to a former police captain (Adams) after a year of Republicans calling them anti-cop? Did they nominate a left-wing attorney who wants to move some of the NYPD's “bloated budget” into trauma-informed care for schoolchildren? Adams is likelier to win, for reasons The Post's Philip Bump has already explained, but it's overly hasty to read New York Democrats' minds before absentee ballots roll in, and the ranked-choice count begins.
What do we know about Tuesday, and the Democrats' future? A few things.
Voter turnout hit a 32-year high. This was New York's first primary to incorporate changes such as early voting, the most competitive Democratic race for mayor in 20 years and the most expensive, thanks to a combination of super PAC spending and public financing.
The result? High turnout, with 798,491 votes cast between the early vote period and the end of Election Day. The city sent out more than 200,000 absentee ballots, with less than half returned by Tuesday. (The deadline for the arrival of ballots postmarked by Election Day is June 29.) Already, turnout is well over the 691,801 votes cast in 2013, when Mayor Bill de Blasio won, and the 785,365 cast in 2001 — the last time Democrats competed in a runoff, the system replaced by ranked-choice this year. When it's all counted, the total may not be far off the 996,497 votes cast by Democrats in their 2016 presidential primary; some of the state's most repressive voting laws, such as cutting off party registration months before the primary, have been wiped off the books since then.
Republican turnout could track higher when absentees roll in, but it's not a certainty. Just 51,264 non-absentee votes were cast in the party's mayoral primary, compared to 61,111 in 2013 and 66,531 in 2001. But those primaries had wealthy candidates self-funding robust media campaigns, and this one (more about it below) had the qualities of a sideshow, with even some prominent Republicans (like 2013 nominee Joe Lhota) supporting Democrats and seeing their victory in November as inevitable.
Democrats' robust vote totals revealed just how fixed the city's political and racial coalitions had become. Andrew Yang, who led in polls before rival candidates became better known, had bid for the same moderate, crime-conscious voters as Adams. He didn't win them, and did best in parts of Manhattan and Queens dominated by Asian American voters. Yang also ran up the score in conservative Jewish precincts of Brooklyn, after an assiduous effort to win Orthodox votes. That gave him about the same electorate as John Liu, now a state senator, who ran in 2013 and won Asian Americans and Orthodox voters, but nearly nobody else. Higher turnout expanded the electorate but did not transform it.
The de Blasio coalition fractured, which helped Adams. Eight years ago, de Blasio narrowly avoided a runoff with victories in all five boroughs. He handily won the White liberal neighborhoods of Queens and Brooklyn, held his own in Manhattan, and he won or was competitive with a Black candidate, former comptroller Bill Thompson, in majority-Black precincts.
De Blasio's sagging popularity kept him mostly quiet on this race, though it was well-known that he liked Adams. Black voters overwhelmingly supported the former police captain; White liberals in Manhattan backed Garcia; Wiley dominated in younger, diverse parts of Brooklyn and Queens. Neither woman had much crossover appeal with first-choice votes. According to a New York Post analysis, in assembly districts won by Adams, Wiley got less than half as many first-choice votes, and Garcia got less than a fifth as many.
Watching that one-time coalition fracture was a bitter experience for New York's left. Some of the city's rising political organizers prioritized down-ballot races, seeing the mayoral contest as too messy to navigate. Comptroller Scott Stringer, who set out to win liberals in the outer boroughs and good-government voters in Manhattan — “ready on day one” was his slogan — placed no better than fifth in most districts, pulling into fourth place in the 69th district on Manhattan's west side. Talking to City & State New York's Jeff Coltin in that district, Stringer used a four-letter word after being asked whether liberals would blame him if Wiley lost, based on his decision to keep running after sexual misconduct accusations scared off many of his endorsers.
“A lot of them have to blame themselves,” said Stringer, who denied the accusations. "But that’s a story for another day.”
It's easy, but not too enlightening, to add up the votes for the most liberal candidates and pronounce that a test of the movement's strength. Just 30.8 percent of in-person voters went for Wiley, Stringer, nonprofit CEO Dianne Morales, and Art Chang, a “pro-business progressive” who tried to offer himself as the purest and least-compromised left-wing choice. None of them — not even Wiley, who told audiences she'd been “Black all my life” — was as competitive for Black votes as de Blasio, whose surge eight years ago came after featuring his biracial son, Dante, in an ad about the NYPD's stop-and-frisk policy.
The left's path to victory isn't closed off yet, but the recriminations began weeks ago. Stringer's strategy included consolidating liberal endorsements, at which he was mostly succeeding before the accusations, and to winning high-engagement liberals with a New York Times endorsement, which was impossible afterward. "His candidacy has been clouded," the Times wrote, as part of its rationale for backing Garcia.
But some on the left always saw Stringer as a long shot, an affable White politician who wouldn't have de Blasio's ability to win Black votes. Some focused on other races, or invested in them first, waiting for the mayoral contest to settle.
“We didn’t have exciting diverse progressives who could run for mayor,” said Democratic strategist Monica Klein. Progressives, she explained didn't yet have a bench of established candidates with records and alliances in the city council. “In 10 to 15 years, we’re going to have diverse, experienced progressives, with records they can run on.”
The left's down-ballot focus may pay off. The mess in the mayoral contest was exemplified by the gyrations of the Working Families Party, New York's left-wing kingmaker. It initially endorsed Stringer as a first choice, urging supporters to rank Wiley and Morales, too. After the Stringer accusations, it endorsed ranking both women, without suggesting a ballot order. And after Morales's campaign staff walked out over working condition complaints, WFP backed Wiley, joined eventually by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D).
That was not enough to win the first-choice vote, but it was mitigated by what happened down-ballot. Ocasio-Cortez and the rest of the left turned council member Brad Lander into the best vote-getter in the race to replace Stringer, finishing eight points ahead of City Council Speaker Corey Johnson. That was a coup, as Johnson had bigfooted his way into the race late, calling in his support from organized labor. Both bested Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, a former CNBC anchor who challenged Ocasio-Cortez for Congress. Johnson could close the gap or win as absentees and ranked-choice votes are counted, but the left had pulled Lander from semi-obscurity, and a New York Times endorsement vaulted him ahead.
The left-plus-NYT combo was powerful in the race for Manhattan district attorney, giving former prosecutor Alvin Bragg a lead over Tali Farhadian Weinstein, despite worries that the left would splinter its vote. Hillary Clinton endorsed Farhadian Weinstein, while Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) endorsed Tahanie Aboushie, WFP's candidate.
But Bragg got the NYT endorsement, and Farhadian Weinstein's massive spending from her husband's hedge fund wealth backfired in the final days, as liberals consolidated behind the candidate who looked likeliest to stop her. It's not over, but Aboushie has endorsed Bragg, and he has declared victory, leading by 7,265 votes before absentees get counted. (The county-level DA race did not use ranked-choice voting.) Ocasio-Cortez stayed out of the race.
We'll know more about the left's progress as counting continues. Antonio Reynoso, who was endorsed by Sanders, led the field in the race for Brooklyn borough president by nine points. Two of the city council candidates endorsed by Democratic Socialists of America, Alexa Aviles in Brooklyn and Tiffany Caban in Queens, were closing on 50 percent of the vote before absentees and ranked-choice ballots came in. Four more socialists were trailing, waiting for those final ballots. But even a 33 percent win rate would build a small socialist bloc in the city council, and in the Bronx, Ocasio-Cortez endorsed Kristin Richardson Jordan, who was just a handful of votes behind council fixture Bill Perkins.
The left may not elect Wiley, who it was late to embrace. But a more moderate, business-friendly Mayor Adams could take office with left-wing Democrats in charge of every other citywide office — WFP's Jumaane Williams easily was nominated for a new term as public advocate — and replacing him in Brooklyn's Borough Hall.
Republicans take a cue from Rudy, not Trump. The GOP's mayoral nomination this year was not much of a prize. Rudy Giuliani's party hasn't won here since 2009, and donors from the financial and real estate industries had hedged their bets with Adams (and Yang). Giuliani, currently under criminal investigation, got behind Curtis Sliwa, the founder of the Guardian Angels community safety group, who admitted to hoaxing some of their exploits but became a bookable TV commentator.
Sliwa did not support Donald Trump for president, and did not evolve that position in this primary. Fernando Mateo, the president of the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers, tried to exploit that. In a debate, he waved a “Trumpy bear” on his Zoom camera, with an accompanying growl. In an interview with WYNC's Brian Lehrer, he said that Trump “was reelected” in 2020; Sliwa said that he wasn't.
Trump ignored the race, and Sliwa won easily, with 72 percent of the votes cast in person, a margin too big for absentee ballots to overcome. Declaring victory on Tuesday, Sliwa said he would patch up his friendship with Mateo ("he's from the streets, I'm from the streets"), then run against the Democrats on a platform of “taking the handcuffs off the police and putting them on the criminals."
“I am the man who relates to the average people in the city,” Sliwa said. “The homeless. The emotionally disturbed. Those who are forgotten. And this is going to be a campaign, clearly, in which I talk a lot about cracking down on crime.” The next day, he promised to bring police back “from zero status to hero status,” and gave the New York Post a tour of his 320-square foot apartment and the 15 rescue cats who live with him and his wife.
Trump did elbow into the race for Staten Island borough president, an office that Republicans typically win. He endorsed Vito Fossella, a former congressman who retired in 2008 after it was revealed that he'd fathered a child in Virginia while living with his wife in New York. In the initial count, Fossella led city council member Steven Matteo by just 211 votes, not enough to crack 50 percent and avoid the ranking of second, third, fourth, and fifth preferences.
The long path to a ranked-choice count.
“'The Tea Party to the 10th power': Trumpworld bets big on critical race theory,” by Theodoric Meyer, Maggie Severns, and Meridith McGraw
How CRT became all the rage.
Men with guns meet election administrators.
“Is it Miller time in Ohio’s 16th Congressional District?” by Matthew Kassel
Why Trump is rallying for a former staffer: He's challenging a Republican who impeached him.
How blue states are adapting after 2020.
“Inside the battle over the soul of the Libertarian Party,” by Brian Doherty
Why leaders of the country's biggest third party have been resigning.
“Inside the ‘shadow reality world’ promoting the lie that the presidential election was stolen,” by Rosalind S. Helderman, Emma Brown, Tom Hamburger, and Josh Dawsey
The traveling block party of election denial.
On the trail
Black mayoral candidates have made gains this year, and Tuesday was no exception in the five boroughs and beyond. In Rochester, Mayor Lovely Warren lost in a landslide to city council member Malik Evans. In Buffalo, Mayor Byron Brown narrowly lost his bid for a fifth term to India Walton, a 38-year old socialist, nurse and union organizer.
All four candidates were Black, but Evans and Walton ran from the left, with the sort of coalition that earlier powered state Rep. Ed Gainey to victory in Pittsburgh and Mayor Tishaura Jones into St. Louis’s city hall. On election night, after Walton declared victory, she talked to The Trailer about how she won and how she planned to change the city.
THE TRAILER: When you won, you said that it was time for working people to take “what's rightfully ours" in Buffalo. Can you expand on that?
INDIA WALTON: This is about workers. This is about poor people. This is about women and mothers and immigrants and people who often go unnoticed, unseen and unheard. And this is the time that we claim what I think is rightfully ours, and that is the city of Buffalo. So many workers have kept us moving through the pandemic, through economic downturns. And yet, everything seems to go to the developers and the rich these days. People are ready for something different.
TT: How did you find enough voters to make that happen?
IW: I'm an organizer. All of my friends are organizers. And when we organize, we win. A friend gifted me a book called “Make Change,” written by Shaun King. And in the foreword, by Bernie Sanders, he says the way to beat organized money is with organized people. That's exactly what we did. We recruited 400 volunteers. We knew that this needed to be a national conversation, so we worked to control the narrative and thrust campaign into the national spotlight. We attracted more than 3,000 small donors to the campaign, so we were competitive, even when we weren't being taken seriously.
TT: You told The New Republic, before the election, that you expected to be a one-term mayor. Why's that?
IW: I'm not planning to be a one term mayor. I just assume that that is how things are going to shake out. We're going to make so much change and bring so many resources to working-class neighborhoods that have long been forgotten, that I know a fight will be mounted against that type of change. In fact, in just the last seven days, we saw billionaires from all across the country or the hundreds of thousands of dollars into Mayor Brown's campaign in order for him to fight against having a voice for working- class people. So I'm just I'm bracing myself for the future. My intent is to stay true to my values and to really prioritize working-class folks and people who've been left behind. And I know that the wealthy and the power elite are not going to like that too much. So I'm preparing myself to have a very significant challenge in four years.
TT: You've laid out what you want to do from the first 100 days through those four years: Stopping arrests for minor drug possession, an unarmed safety detail for “quality of life calls,” relief funds for homeowners and renters. What sort of resources will you have to get that done?
IW: We're set to receive $350 million in covid relief from the federal government, and I'm excited that the people will have a real say in how that money is allocated. We will not see more of the same trickle-down economics strategy waiting for resources to get to poor, working-class people. We'll be able to really build from the bottom up. I am looking forward to multiple listening tours and getting into neighborhoods and communities and finding out what people really want and need.
TT: A lot of the quick analysis of your win highlighted your socialism, that you'd be the first socialist mayor of a big industrial city since before either of us was born. So what does socialism mean to you? What did it mean in the race?
IW: We are perfectly fine with socialism for the wealthy when it's time to bail out Wall Street, or when we give a billion-dollar tax breaks to billionaires in Buffalo and their empty factories that have not produced any living wage jobs. We're fine with socialism when it comes to providing it for wealthy people. We get afraid when we talk about providing similar resources to people who work every day and keep the city moving forward. I think our campaign did a great job of controlling that narrative and making it so that people are not afraid of the label.
TT: How did you come to consider yourself a socialist?
IW: The idea of rugged individualism and pulling yourself up by your bootstraps is a lie, and I know it because of my own experience. I am a teenage mother and a high school dropout and I got my GED on the way to a nursing degree. I'm a registered nurse and I'm making $75,000 to $80,000 a year. And I'm still unable to purchase a home to provide my children with the best opportunities. That is because there are systems that are designed to keep certain people in certain positions in life. I believe that affordable housing is a human right, that health care is a human right, and we start there when we're allocating resources.
TT: What would you say to some business owner, some wealthy resident, who sees your victory and worries about staying in Buffalo, or investing in it?
IW: I would say God bless them, and I love them. I'm going to be a leader who cares for all people. That includes the business community. And I've always said that when people decide to come along, they are more than welcome at the table.
NRSC, “Crazy and Dangerous.” Under the leadership of Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), the GOP's Senate campaign committee has polled frequently and messaged, with paid ads, using the material that was most damaging to Democrats. Scott stars in and narrates a spot warning that Democrats have embraced the “dumbest" policy idea, defunding police, though there's some sleight-of-hand in suggesting that the party is behind it. (The image of Pelosi discussing “defunding” is from a 2020 interview where she rejected it.) The overall message is that the president's weakness isn't keeping the left in check.
Kevin Faulconer, “La Promesa De La Destitución." As interest in Caitlyn Jenner has waned, the best-funded Republican candidate in California's recall election keeps running ads that offer him as a pragmatist challenging a failed governor. Speaking in his own Spanish, Faulconer goes after school closures and the release of criminals from prison under recall target Gov. Gavin Newsom (D). The prisoner release occurred because of a referendum approved by California voters, but Republicans have wound it into their case that Newsom is making the state unsafe.
Do you support Texas building a wall along the state's border with Mexico? (Quinnipiac, 1099 Texas voters)
Support: 50% Oppose: 46%
The vice president's visit to El Paso tomorrow comes after four months of Republican pressure, urging her to visit the U.S.-Mexico border in person. “Immigration” writ large is the administration's weakest issue, with Republicans and independents deeply critical of Biden-Harris policy, and Democrats unsatisfied with the lack of progress toward a naturalization bill. But Republicans have rallied around the argument that Biden should return to Trump-era immigration policies. If that becomes a debate about funding the wall, Democrats have sound footing, with the governor's plan to fund wall construction opposed by Democrats and independents; if Republicans focus more on Trump-era changes to migrant and asylum policies, Republicans have more to work with.
Which comes closer to your view of the additional unemployment benefits provided by the federal government during the pandemic last year? What about this year? (Fox News, 1001 registered voters)
Last year Necessary lifeline for the unemployed: 62% Unnecessary paid vacation: 35%
This year Helping the recovery: 45% Hurting the recovery: 53%
The extended unemployment insurance in the American Rescue Plan was attacked for weeks by business lobbyists, who insisted that workers were passing on jobs to grab welfare payments. Twenty-five states, most led by Republicans, have cut off the extra benefits or will cut them off by the Fourth of July weekend, and the newest bipartisan infrastructure deal repurposes the money that states aren't using. Despite complaints from the left, Democrats simply didn't fight to retain the expanded benefits, and public opinion moved against them, even in a poll that puts Biden at 56 percent approval.
Do you approve of the way Joe Biden is handling his job as president? (Gallup, 1012 adults)
Approve: 56% (+2 since May) Disapprove: 42% (+2)
Like Fox's poll, Gallup's monthly tracker found some worries about Biden's agenda, and fewer worries about Biden himself. Independents approve of Biden by 13 points, and moderates approve by a 2-to-1 margin, keeping Biden well above water even with little support from Republican voters. The caveat: Barack Obama's approval rating remained as high or higher for most of 2009, even as opposition built to his agenda and Republicans gained steam. A lot of the GOP's strategies right now, such as opposing school boards that have added lessons on “systemic racism," are not related to Biden specifically.
In the states
Virginia gubernatorial nominees Glenn Youngkin (R) and Terry McAuliffe (D) agreed to one debate this summer, as negotiations continued on how many more to hold. McAuliffe initially proposed five: two in southwest Virginia, one in Northern Virginia, one in Richmond and one in Norfolk. Youngkin countered with three, the same number of debates held in the 2017 race, and the same held in the 2013 race, which McAuliffe won.
Youngkin's campaign accused the “weak” Democrat of trying to “mak[e] up lost ground,” though polling has put McAuliffe narrowly ahead. Democrat Mark Herring and Republican Jason Miryares met last week for the first debate of the attorney general campaign, with the incumbent Democrat calling his opponent a “conservative activist,” and Miryares accusing Herring of a “criminal first, victim last” approach to public safety.
In Arizona, state Rep. Shawnna Bolick became the fifth Republican candidate for secretary of state, a race that has become an intramural competition among conservatives who challenged the 2020 election. Bolick is best known for proposing legislation that would allow the state legislature to subvert the result of a popular vote; if in effect last year, that could have allowed the state's GOP majority to deny Joe Biden the state's 11 electors.
“It’s time to secure our elections once and for all and de-politicize the office of Secretary of State,” Bolick said in her launch announcement. “Fifty-one percent of voters now believe cheating likely affected the outcome of the 2020 election.” She did not cite a poll for that number, and other data has found that only a majority of Republicans doubt the election's fairness.
The California recall took one step forward, with the end of the period for voters to withdraw their names from recall petitions. Just 43 Californians pulled their names, leaving around 1.7 million valid signatures. The recall is going to happen; the only dispute at this point is whether California Democrats can pass legislation that would push the expected date up from autumn to the end of summer.
In Maryland, former labor secretary and DNC chairman Tom Perez launched his campaign for governor of Maryland. He's the 10th Democrat trying to succeed term-limited Gov. Larry Hogan (R), and the second member of the Obama Cabinet, after former secretary of education John King.
Over the course of the year we'll look at how each state is drawing its new congressional map, and Colorado's redistricting battle broke into the open this week. Time to talk about it.
Current delegation: Seven seats, four held by Democrats and three held by Republicans.
Next delegation: Eight seats, thanks to population growth captured by the 2020 Census, especially around Denver.
Who runs redistricting: A nonpartisan commission created by voters during 2018's Democratic wave. That's a sore point for some Democrats; had they balked at changing the system, they'd currently control the entire process. And they've made no effort to roll back the changes.
What could change: The past decade's map created three districts in and around Denver (the 1st, 6th, and 7th), one district that covers the liberal college towns of Boulder and Fort Collins (the 2nd), one based in the old GOP stronghold of Colorado Springs (the 5th), and two massive, Republican-held rural districts — the 3rd that includes a string of liberal ski towns, and the deep red 4th.
After 2020, Democrats held the four urban and suburban seats, which have backed every Democratic candidate for president since they were drawn; Republicans held the rest, with Rep. Lauren Boebert running behind President Donald Trump's margin and emerging as a Democratic target in 2022. (Both she and Trump carried the seat by six points, down from Trump's 12-point margin in 2016.)
The independent commission's first crack at a map, which was released this week but will be altered, creates a new 8th District around Denver with a substantial Latino population. Colorado has not sent a Latino to Congress since 2010, when former Rep. John Salazar, a Democrat, lost in the GOP wave. To sketch out how balanced the districts would be, the commission calculated the vote in each for the 2018 attorney general contest, the closest of that year's statewide races, won by Democrat Philip Weiser.
That was when the complaining started.
Who could lose out: Democrats think they could, though they don't expect the map to stay like this. Despite Biden's landslide win last year, the map would draw four districts carried by Democrats in that 2018 race, and four carried by Republicans. The 1st District would get smaller, and bluer, covering the most Democratic parts of Denver. The 7th District would be pushed into Republican territory, changing a seat Biden carried by 23 points into one he carried by single digits — and that Weiser couldn't carry in the 2018 race.
That could be a problem for Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D), who transformed his old district into a safe seat, and would be thrust into a more challenging one. While the GOP's suburban collapse shored up Democrats around Denver, registered Republicans slightly outnumber Democrats in the new 7th, and Democrats are nervous about how voters who shifted dramatically during Trump's presidency could shift again.
“This preliminary plan seems to put a thumb on the scale for Republicans,” Democratic Party Chair Morgan Carroll told the Colorado Sun.
Democrats also would effectively cede the 3rd District, which credible candidates have already jumped in to compete for — and where Boebert's far-right views and relative weakness in the city of Pueblo have given the party hope of beating her. The new map would cut out Pueblo and put it into the 4th District, protecting both Boebert and Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.).
What to watch: How the commission responds to criticism and fresh input. The proposal for a Latino-heavy district was popular, backed by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, but that group's proposal kept the 7th much bluer.
They both took place last weekend, but the Western Conservative Summit in Denver didn't grab as many headlines or stars as the Faith & Freedom Coalition gathering near Orlando. What it did have was a straw poll, with the conservative Centennial Institute asking 371 attendees which potential 2024 presidential nominees they could support.
The most votes went to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who previously won the Conservative Political Action Conference's straw poll once Donald Trump was removed as an option. Seventy-four percent of Colorado attendees said they approved of the Florida governor, to 71 percent who approved of Trump as a potential candidate. No one else was close: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) grabbed 43 percent, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley got 19 percent, and the rest of the potential field landed in between.
Representatives from the conservative think tank didn't comment further when asked about the poll, which also included a question about attendees' top issue. (The winner was “immigration.”) But it took a snapshot of who conservative activists are listening to and who's courting them. Haley has avoided the conservative conference circuit this year so far; former secretary of state Mike Pompeo has started a political action committee and worked with House Republicans to undermine any potential negotiations between the United States and Iran.
Haley will keynote tonight's Lincoln Dinner for Iowa Republicans, returning to a state where she campaigned for successful congressional candidates last year. Trump will rally in northeast Ohio on Saturday, returning to traditional campaigning by supporting Max Miller, a former staffer in his administration challenging Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio), who voted to impeach Trump over his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
… four days until absentee and provisional ballots are counted in New York … five days until the first ranked-choice ballot allocation in New York … 18 days until all ballots are ranked and counted in New York … 33 days until the special election in Texas’s 6th Congressional District … 40 days until primaries in Ohio’s 11th and 15th Congressional Districts … 131 days until primaries in Florida’s 20th Congressional District