Eric Adams' apparent win in the New York City mayoral primary demonstrates the power of law-and-order messaging among Latinos and starkly highlights a generational divide in the electorate, according to insiders and election observers.
The Associated Press and CNN called the election on Tuesday night, with Adams holding an 8,400-vote lead over former city sanitation commissioner Katheryn Garcia - a difference of one percentage point. Maya Wiley, a former counsel to current Mayor Bill de Blasio, trails in third place.
With most absentee ballots already counted, the Board of Elections' tally indicates that Adams leads with 403,333 votes (50.5%), compared to 394,907 (49.5%) for Garcia.
In a statement Wednesday morning, Adams said that "while there are still some very small amounts of votes to be counted, the results are clear: an historic, diverse, five-borough coalition led by working-class New Yorkers has led us to victory in the Democratic primary for Mayor of New York City."
Late on Tuesday night a spokeswoman for Garcia said that the campaign was "seeking additional clarity on the number of outstanding ballots." Wednesday morning, Garcia announced she was conceding the race.
"Eric Adams will be the winner of the Democratic primary," she said. "I spoke to Eric earlier today and congratulated him."
The Law and Order Candidate
Election observers and analysts have noted that much of Adams' success in New York stems from his positioning himself as a â€˜law and order' candidate.
A former police captain, Adams has called for a relatively expansive role for the New York Police Department in promoting public safety in the city, particularly when it comes to fighting rising gun violence and racially-motivated attacks on Asian-American and Jewish residents.
As recently as last week, for example, Eric Adams picked up an endorsement from the mother of Lesandro â€˜Junior' Guzman-Feliz, a 15-year old Latino resident of the Bronx who was stabbed to death by gang members in a high-profile 2018 murder.
Eli Valentin, a New York-based political analyst, consultant and professor, said that Adams' law-and-order messaging resonated particularly well in many Latino communities. In the Bronx - the only borough with a majority-Latino population - Valentin estimates that nearly half of Latino voters cast a ballot for Adams.
"It's a real issue for Latinos, and affects them on a daily basis," he said. "I think that with the â€˜defund the police' movement, it's easy to forget that Latinos and people of color are impacted by crime and it's an important issue. I think that's the reason many Latinos gravitated to an Adams candidacy."
Speaking on condition of anonymity, an LPO source with inside knowledge of the Adams campaign said that the campaign is likely to continue its focus on law and order as Adams heads towards the November general election against Republican candidate Curtis Sliwa.
"Crime is rising in the city, and that's clearly something that people are concerned about," the source said. "This is particularly true in many of the city's Black and brown communities. These communities are the ones that bear the brunt of this issue. The election results are going to show that."
At the same time, many older residents of the city remember Adams when he first rose to public prominence as a young police officer and co-founder of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care, an advocacy group that called for criminal reform and an end to racial profiling and police brutality.
"That's very important to many people here," Daniel Berganza, a Bronx resident, told LPO. "Crime and police misconduct are related issues - and a lot of people see him as someone who can look at both."
A rebuke of the Progressives?
Adams' victory also starkly highlights the stark differences in the Democratic party - with some noting that his victory shows a backlash against the far-left, Progressive wing of the Democratic Party.
Democratic millennial Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, for example, endorsed Maya Wiley on June 6.
According to Eli Valentin, the results also show that significant differences exist within New York City's diverse Latino electorate.
"When it comes to the Latino community, I think it's really generational," he said. "Younger Latinos tend to be more open to Progressive left positions on issues. Overall, I think that when you look at the results, with Adams and Garcia as the top two, it [shows] that the electorate is in the more moderate wing of the party."
Valentin's assessment was echoed by the Reverend Al Sharpton, who noted on MSNBC on Wednesday that "three-fourths of New York Democratic voters voted for a balanced messaging, in terms of where you go with policing."
"The message we should not lose is that New York is not as fringe as some people want to project," he said.
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