NEW YORK — Eric Adams barely held onto his lead in New York City’s Democratic mayoral primary after voters’ lower-ranked candidates were accounted for on Tuesday.
He now outpaces Kathryn Garcia by just 2.2 points with more than 120,000 absentee ballots left to count.
Those ballots will now decide the race, with Adams up by just 15,908 votes.
Garcia overtook Maya Wiley for the second place spot once the city’s Board of Elections tallied 11 rounds of ranked-choice voting Tuesday.
The system, being used for the first time, allowed voters to pick up to five candidates in order of preference. Once a candidate is knocked off, their votes are spread out to the remaining hopefuls. The absentee ballots will be factored into another tabulation next Tuesday before the board releases a final certification by July 12.
“Once all the votes are counted, I know everyone will support the Democratic nominee and that’s exactly what I intend to do,” Garcia said in a statement. “We look forward to the final results. Democracy is worth waiting for.”
Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, has now secured just over 51 percent of the vote, up from the 31.7 percent he received in first-place votes when New Yorkers hit the polls last Tuesday.
However, he released a statement Tuesday questioning the Board of Elections’ math. The vote total from the ranked-choice tabulation was more than 100,000 ballots higher than the unofficial tally on election night.
“We have asked the Board of Elections to explain such a massive increase and other irregularities before we comment on the Ranked Choice Voting projection,” he said in a statement. “We remain confident that Eric Adams will be the next mayor of New York because he put together a historic five-borough working class coalition of New Yorkers to make our city a safer, fairer, more affordable place.”
Adams has said multiple times he would accept the results of the election and support whomever emerged as the Democratic nominee.
“People ask all the time are you going to accept the outcome?” he said last week. “Darn right I am.”
Wiley, who finished in second place last week with 22.2 percent, fell to third before being eliminated in the rankings. She trailed Garcia by less than 1 point, however, meaning that the leaderboard could easily change once again when the paper ballots are opened. And with such tight margins, she did not concede.
“I said on election night, we must allow the democratic process to continue and count every vote so that New Yorkers have faith in our democracy and government,” she said in a statement. “And we must all support its results.”
Her voters appeared largely to support Garcia over Adams, delivering the former sanitation commissioner enough votes to come within striking distance of first place.
Fourth place went to Andrew Yang — who had campaigned with Garcia in the days before last week’s primary and urged his supporters to rank her second.
That alliance may end up being decisive.
According to a Marist poll commissioned by POLITICO and WNBC before the pact, Adams voters were most likely to pick Yang second and vice versa. Garcia and Wiley voters were more likely to pick the respective candidates for first or second as well.
Tuesday’s results, however, showed Garcia was the prime beneficiary of Yang’s elimination, suggesting the duo’s alliance swayed Yang’s supporters.
When Yang was nixed in the tenth round, his votes boosted Garcia and Adams by roughly 6 points each. Wiley got just 3 points.
“If we don’t win but we help elect Kathryn Garcia, that’s a pretty good outcome,” Yang campaign co-manager Chris Coffey said of the candidate’s thinking when he joined the accord.