Kathryn Garcia jumps into second place as NYC mayoral race tightens

Kathryn Garcia has moved within striking distance of Eric Adams in a nail-biting race for New York City mayor after a new count of ranked-choice ballots wiped out what had seemed like a commanding lead for the retired police captain and Brooklyn borough president.

Adams led the contest for the Democratic party nomination over Garcia, the former head of the sanitation department, 51.1 per cent to 48.9 per cent, a margin of 15,908 ballots, according to updated figures released by the board of elections. It still has more than 124,000 absentee ballots to process, which may not be completed until mid-July.

Maya Wiley, the leading progressive candidate, who was in second place after the first round of voting, fell to third.

“Even with today’s ranked choice report we are still waiting for more than 120,000 absentee ballots to be counted and we are confident about a path to victory,” Garcia said. 

The Democratic nominee is almost certain to prevail in November’s general election in a city where Democratic voters far outnumber their Republican counterparts.

The contest is being closely watched not only to see who will attempt to lead the country’s largest city in its recovery from a devastating pandemic but as a high-profile battle between the Democratic party establishment and a rising progressive wing.

This year’s contest is the first time the city has used ranked choice voting, in which voters had the option to list up to five candidates, in order of preference, on their ballot. Losing candidates are successively eliminated and their votes redistributed until there are only two remaining.

After an initial count of ballots on election night, last Tuesday, Adams had 28.8 per cent of the first place votes, with Wiley, a former counsel for Mayor Bill de Blasio, at 19.9 per cent and Garcia at 17.8 per cent.

Garcia, who would be the city’s first woman mayor, billed herself during the campaign as a pragmatist and no-nonsense manager, capable of making an unwieldy city bureaucracy function better. She enjoyed a late burst of support.

Both Garcia and Adams, who would be New York City’s second black mayor, are from the party’s moderate wing. On the key issue of public security, both have argued against defunding the police, promising instead to reform the department while aggressively tackling a steep rise in shootings.

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