Greek philosophers are probably the last thing that comes to mind when thinking of New York City politics. However, I can’t stop wondering, reappropriating Socrates by asking if a to-be-tabulated election, specifically the 2021 NYC primary, is worth analyzing or if it is better to down a final glass with him? The votes are in but results are not expected to be official until July 12, so we’ve got some time, but I’ll give it my best shot knowing it may all be premature and ruin my chance to be dubbed the next Kornacki.
So, first, what do we know? Where do we stand? What does it mean? There are thousands of absentee votes yet to be opened, and multiple rounds of ranked-choice votes to redistribute so we’ll start at the top of the charter and follow it on down.
Eric Adams is leading to be the Democratic nominee, and therefore, mayor of New York, with around 31 percent of the vote (19 percent from victory), compared to 22 percent for Maya Wiley and Kathryn Garcia at around 20. Adams is likely to keep a narrowing lead, but what we do know is that Adams, Wiley, and Garcia are the only three people who could plausibly get to 50 percent and become Mayor come 2022, and therefore, for the 3rd straight election, our mayor will be from our most populous borough of Brooklyn.
Next on the ballot, and in the charter pecking order, is the public advocate and then comptroller. Incumbent Public Advocate Jumanee Williams cruised with no real challenge while Brad Lander overperformed the early polls to lead Corey Johnson by 9 points. In the Brooklyn borough president race Antonio Reynoso is leading his nearest opponents by a healthy margin.
As for the City Council races, very few have been called. However, in “my” neck of the woods, Lincoln Restler has already won in the 33rd, Alexa Aviles is safely leading in the 38th, and Shahana Hanif is winning the 39th.
So, like after all elections, people want to know what this all means for their city and themselves? Well first, let’s all avoid saying this means something about anywhere else. Assuming Adams wins, it doesn’t mean this or that about swing districts in the central time zone or whatever weird graft of logic some less gifted “pundit” then myself will attempt. I don’t think the results can be purely understood within the usual “left/ right” dynamic.
I will say it reinforces the importance of knowing your audience when campaigning and also that your audience knows you. Also, and this is a big lesson, being reflexively NIMBY may not be the electoral winner it once was. Hell, even the occasionalcommunity board is approving density in a landslide while candidates that embrace the opposition to doing anything besides the status quo fail to even be in the mix.
Of course I’m speculating and this could be a column highlighting how dead wrong I am when the results come in over the next few weeks. After all, some say political scientists are best at “predicting the past.”