Democrat Eric Adams won the New York City mayoral race Tuesday on promises to boost public safety and give working-class residents a voice, drawing on his experience as a police captain and as a black man who experienced police brutality in his youth.
Adams, Brooklyn Borough President since 2014, was projected as the winner by the Associated Press. He will become the second black mayor of the city after defeating Republican Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels civil patrol.
Adams, 61, replaces Democrat Bill de Blasio, who had a limited term after eight years in office, in January.
Adams will be faced with the task of overseeing the fledgling recovery of the largest U.S. city from the coronavirus pandemic, as well as tackling wealth inequality, a lack of affordable housing and struggling public schools.
He was expected to win comfortably in the overwhelmingly Democratic city.
His victory could give President Joe Biden’s Democrats some signals of the voters’ position as the party struggles to maintain a fragile alliance between progressives and centrists in Washington.
Adams prevailed in the party’s primaries with a coalition that somewhat resembled the voters who helped elevate Biden to the Democratic nomination in 2020, especially his support among more moderate black voters.
Progressives worry that Adams is taking too much interest in the real estate industry, a powerful lobby group that contributed generously to his campaign.
Right on ‘streets’, not on ‘tweets’
Adams has not been shy about suggesting that his victory can serve as a model for the National Democrats. He has been dismissive of critics of his left-wing agenda, who, according to him, do not speak for the mainstream Democrats.
“I’m saying it’s time we stopped believing that we should have the right tweets. We should have the right safe streets,” Adams told CNN after winning the party’s nomination in July.
Presenting himself as a “working-class” New Yorker, he said that working-class Democrats had been ignored by the more liberal wing of the party.
Perhaps no issue has animated Democrats more in the past year than vigilance, after the 2020 police murder of George Floyd, a black man, in Minneapolis sparked months of demonstrations across the country.
But a surge in crime has prompted mayoral candidates across the country to call for more investment in surveillance, not less, as public safety has risen to the top of many voters’ list of concerns.
Adams has argued that the city cannot achieve a full economic recovery without addressing violent crime. He bluntly rejected the “police underfunding” movement as the product of left-wing activists.
Instead, he has tried to strike a balance between calling for more aggressive policing and promising reforms, including greater diversity at the department’s top ranks.
His personal story helped to give credence to his words. Adams has spoken of being beaten up by police officers as a teenager.
While a member of the New York City Police Department, Adams developed a reputation as an activist after co-founding 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care, an advocacy group that spoke out against police brutality.
Adams, who secured key union backing, is seen as favorable to the workforce. He has also said that he will work to connect more low-income residents to city services that they are eligible for but do not use.
Adams, who has acknowledged having his eyes on City Hall for decades, has at times been accused of altering his personality for political expediency.
He switched to the Republican Party for several years before successfully running for the state Senate as a Democrat, and has described himself as progressive and moderate.