Brooklyn borough president Eric Adams has taken an early lead in the New York mayoral Democratic primary race, though a final result is still weeks away.
The former police officer secured 32 per cent of first preference votes with 83 per cent of ballots counted, comfortably ahead of Maya Wiley on 22.3 per cent and former sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia with 19.5 per cent.
Andrew Yang, a former presidential hopeful who dominated the early months of the campaign but saw his support drop in recent weeks, conceded defeat on Tuesday night after poor early tallies.
“I am not going to be mayor of New York City based on the numbers that have come in tonight,” he said at a downbeat election-night party in a Manhattan hotel.
“I am conceding this race, though we’re not sure ultimately who the next mayor is going to be. Whoever that person is, I will be very happy to work with them to help improve the lives of the 8.3 million people who live in our great city, and I encourage other people to do the same.”
New York is deploying a ranked-choice voting system for its mayoral contest for the first time and voters were permitted to vote for five candidates on their ballot. Because no one candidate reached 50 per cent, the bottom-ranking candidate will be eliminated and his or her votes reallocated to the candidate who was ranked second on the ballot.
New York’s Board of Election will not announce the first reallocation until next Tuesday. It is currently accepting and processing thousands of absentee ballots that were cast along with the in-person votes cast on election day.
Mr Adams delivered a triumphant speech on Tuesday night as the results came in.
“I am going to be your mayor,” he told supporters, adding: “The little guy won.”
His strong performance reflected deep support in all New York city boroughs except Manhattan. Ms Garcia, who won the endorsement of the New York Times, led the poll in Manhattan.
Ms Wiley, a progressive candidate who favours redirecting funding for the police to other services and was endorsed by New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, told her supporters that the race was not over, noting that a significant number of votes had yet to be counted.
Both Ms Garcia and Ms Wiley are hoping to attract second-preference votes as lower-performing candidates are eliminated, but Mr Adams appears to have a solid lead.
The 60-year-old, who would be only the second black mayor of New York if elected, mopped up support in areas of Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx.
He amassed a solid coalition, tapping into support from black and Latino New Yorkers as well as from the main unions. He campaigned on a law-and-order message – an issue that polls show is a central concern of New Yorkers as the city emerges from the pandemic.
While Republicans also held a primary, the winner of the Democratic contest is virtually certain to replace current mayor Bill de Blasio when the main election takes place in November.