Kathryn Garcia Surges … Into a Mess

Kathryn Garcia marches on. Photo: Corbis via Getty Images

On Wednesday, after the second attempt by the famously incompetent New York City Board of Elections to run through rounds of ranked choice voting, Eric Adams was, once again, positioned with a slender lead over Kathryn Garcia in the Democratic mayoral primary, after nine rounds of eliminating competitors who fell short. This result was not much different than the one announced on Tuesday, save that it wasn’t marred by the accidental inclusion of 135,000 sample ballots that skewed the final results.

Just like after the announcement of the flawed results on Tuesday, this plunges New York into suspense as up to 124,000 absentee ballots remain outstanding and uncounted.

While Adams had a hefty lead of nearly 80,000 voters over Maya Wiley on election night, his margin dwindled to just under 15,000 over Garcia after the ranked choice process played out. Garcia edged out Wiley to squeak into the final round of voting by a mere 347 votes.

The first citywide election with ranked choice voting was always going to mark a cultural adjustment in New York’s ferocious partisan politics. The last-minute alliance of Garcia and Andrew Yang raised eyebrows as Yang urged supporters to rank the former city sanitation commissioner second on their ballot while Garcia did not explicitly encourage her voters to rank Yang at all. The result of the effort, which included a barnstorming tour across multiple boroughs, may have been enough to get Garcia into the final round: 33 percent of eliminated Yang ballots went to her while only 11 percent went to Wiley.

At the time, Adams condemned their alliance, saying that it was a deliberate effort to prevent a Black or Latino candidate winning, going so far as to compare the feelings it created among his supporters to Jim Crow. He even raised questions about the integrity of the election itself: When asked the day before the election whether his rhetoric resembled that of Donald Trump, Adams offered minimal consolation to those worried. “I assure voters that no one is going to steal the election from me,” he said.

Trump himself is using the debacle to bolster his baseless claims of election fraud in the 2020 presidential election. The former president issued multiple statements on Wednesday suggesting alternately that the mayoral election results should be tossed out and that the race was “far better and more accurate than my 2020 Presidential Election.” Adams shot back at Trump in the most Trumpian venue possible: Twitter. There, Adams wrote “As always, Trump gets it wrong. Yesterday, the results released by the BOE had discrepancies which are being addressed. There were NO similar issues in November. Neither of these elections were a hoax or a scam.”

In the meantime, the legal battles are likely to take place under far more traditional and dignified settings than Trump’s irregular audits intended to somehow validate his false and bizarre claims of voter fraud. Both Garcia and Wiley urged patience in statements Wednesday night while the Adams campaign insisted “we are confident we will be the final choice of New Yorkers when every vote is tallied.” Adams has already filed a preemptive lawsuit in order to ensure that his campaign has standing to challenge the final results once absentee ballots are tabulated.

The Board of Elections is not scheduled to certify the election until July 12 and even then, there is the possibility for the final results to be litigated for weeks to come.

Kathryn Garcia Surges … Into a Mess