Good morning! It’s time to get up!
Today is election day in New York City! Before we dive into the mayoral mayhem, I wanted to bring you a special investigative report from one of the other races on the ballot.
CASH MONEY: Tali Farhadian Weinstein’s massive campaign war chest includes hundreds of thousands of dollars from people with ties to her husband’s hedge fund. And Weinstein, whose finances have already raised alarms from ethicists, her opponents, and good government experts, is not committing to recuse herself from cases involving her husband’s business interests. READ THE FULL STORY HERE
THE FINAL COUNTDOWN: Meanwhile, on the road to City Hall,Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams spent the final days of the race facing attacks. He responded by accusing his opponents of a racist “voter suppression” effort. For some of his rivals, Adams’ actions sent a dog whistle of their own and signaled he could be set to launch a Trump-style effort to falsely declare victory in the event he is behind once all the votes are counted.
In a text message to The Uprising, Adams accused his rivals of trying to create drama and distraction.
“I made it clear we will respect the results of the race,” Adams wrote. “Not creating a crisis to push their silly narrative. Today it is about speaking to voters and getting them to the polls.”
While Adams is projecting good cheer as voters go to the polls, his opponents saw the makings of a dark scenario in the closing arguments he made over the last four days. An operative on a rival campaign told The Uprising Adams was “casting doubt on a free and fair election” and said the behavior raised concerns about what exactly the frontrunner might do tonight and in the following days. They speculated that Adams could begin calling himself “the next Democratic nominee for mayor” even though we likely won’t know who won the crucial primary for weeks.
“I could see him going up there with like ten or fifteen percent of the vote in, rolling up to the mic and being like, ‘Yeah I won,’” the operative said.
The operative, who requested anonymity to discuss the state of the race and was granted it because I like to bring you the very best gossip, argued Adams’ suggestion that the process itself is unfair was evocative of former President Trump’s false conspiracy-mongering over his own loss last year.
“I think the comparisons to what happened last fall are very apt because he’s saying the same god-damned thing,” the operative said of Adams.
It’s not just anonymous rivals behind the scenes expressing concerns about the potential for Adams to launch himself into Trumpian election conspiracy territory. Rebecca Katz, a top adviser to one of Adams’ opponents, City Comptroller Scott Stringer, tweeted about the possibility on Monday.
Gloria Pazmino @GloriaPazminoNow @ericadamsfornyc says the @KGforNYC and @AndrewYang push to campaign together on Juneteenth "sent the wrong message." He says he "respects the feelings" of those who felt it was an attempt to suppress the vote.
The drama is centered on ranked choice voting, a method that is being employed for the first time in the city this year. In this system, which was adopted after voters backed a ballot measure in 2019, people can select five candidates from the field. Votes are counted in multiple rounds and if someone’s top choice is eliminated, their support for the next candidate on their list will count. This new system has combined with the need to count absentee ballots and the longstanding issues with slow counts from the city’s Board of Elections to create a situation where the final result of the Democratic primary will take a long time to tally. In staunchly blue New York City, the candidate who emerges victorious from that process will almost certainly be the next mayor.
While polls have consistently shown Adams with a steady lead, they also indicate that he’s not in a position where one of his rivals couldn’t pull off an upset, particularly in the later rounds of the count. In other words, he might seem to be in a deceptively strong position early tonight even if the final result is truly uncertain.
The concerns Adams might use the ambiguity of early ranked choice results to dispute the vote are also amplified by the fact the borough president’s allies sued to block implementation of the new voting system ahead of the election. And, of course, with the recent events of January 6, the potential for antidemocratic behavior seems more real than ever. Political vets in New York City also have deep trauma of their own from a slew of races that ended up in fierce court battles. The fear of Adams going full Trump and launching an election conspiracy campaign reached a crescendo after his closing argument was as much a racially-charged attack on the voting process as it was a pitch for himself.
For example, on Sunday, Adams criticized the plan to release results as they come out and implied it could make people concerned about the integrity of the process.
“People are going to feel as though there’s something hanky panky going on,” Adams said.
But Adams’ main issue was with two of his opponents.
Throughout this campaign, some major endorsers and candidates have tried to capitalize on this system by issuing cross-endorsements or backing a ranked slate. Two of Adams’ top rivals, Andrew Yang and Kathryn Garcia, employed some version of this strategy over the weekend even though the co-endorsement aspect was awkwardly unreciprocated by Garcia.
Adams is Black and has the support of a plurality of African-American voters. His campaign responded to Garcia and Yang’s maneuver by going ballistic and issuing a press release with several of his top endorsers suggesting it was, as one said, an attempt to “sideline the voices of Black and Brown voters.”
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. was part of that chorus. He said Yang and Garcia “should be ashamed of themselves.”
“Latino and Black New Yorkers did not organize and fight for generations so that they could finally put a working class person of color in Gracie Mansion, just to then have their victory taken from them by a backroom deal,” Diaz said.
Of course, if elected, Adams would be the second Black mayor in New York’s history after David Dinkins. He’s also not the only Black candidate with a shot at City Hall in the home stretch. In fact, the top tier of candidates is quite diverse. Yang is the son of Taiwanese immigrants and would be the city’s first Asian mayor. Garcia, who is white, and Maya Wiley, who is Black, would both be the first woman to occupy City Hall.
Adams took things a step further in an interview on CNN Monday morning where he said Garcia and Yang “sent a signal” by teaming up together on Juneteenth. He also explicitly brought up “voter suppression” and racist voting laws in this country. Yet even as he ramped up the rhetoric, Adams also tried to have it both ways and take some distance from the comments from his endorsers.
“I cant speak on behalf of my supporters,” Adams said, even though the comments were sent out by his campaign operation.
Adams went on to say that if his supporters “feel based on their perception that it suppressed the vote,” then he respects “their feelings” and “it’s not for me to interpret their feelings.”
“African Americans are very clear on voter suppression,” Adams said. “We know about the poll tax we know about the fight that we’ve had historically.”
Adams is essentially arguing that, by campaigning for themselves, Garcia and Yang were blocking the will of his Black supporters. However, by using casting it in racial terms and implying the process was being rigged, the critics argue Adams unfairly cast doubt on the integrity of the system.
The rival operative suggested this could undermine Democrats’ efforts to fight genuine voter suppression and false efforts to challenge election results.
“It’s inexcusable, it’s wrong, and it’s dirty,” the operative said. “You don’t put this back in the toothpaste tube.”
For his part, Adams is clearly trying to end the race on a decidedly more positive note and move past his own bombshell allegations.
“This is the silliness of the campaign season,” Adams wrote in his text.
After your correspondent thanked Adams for his response and wished him luck, he sent back a personalized bitmoji. It was a cartoon version of himself grinning and giving a thumbs up.
FUN FACT: This isn’t really a fun fact, per se, but a prankster and artist made some vicious parody mayoral campaign signs and you definitely should take a look at them.
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