Eric Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, held a strong lead on Wednesday, the day after the Democratic primary for mayor of New York City — but the race was far from over.
Mr. Adams gave a triumphant speech on Tuesday night and thanked a long list of supporters who were part of a coalition that included Black and Latino voters, unions and a broad swath of the city outside Manhattan.
He had more than 31 percent of first-choice votes among the nearly 800,000 Democratic votes reported so far. In cities with ranked-choice elections, the candidate who is leading in the first round of voting usually prevails.
But his closest competitors, Maya Wiley, a former counsel to Mayor Bill de Blasio, and Kathryn Garcia, the city’s former sanitation commissioner, had their own corridors of support. Ms. Wiley performed well in some predominately Black neighborhoods in Brooklyn, and in Astoria and Long Island City in Queens. Ms. Garcia had strong support in Manhattan and parts of Brownstone Brooklyn.
If Mr. Adams wins in the coming weeks after absentee ballots and ranked choices are tabulated, his victory could challenge the momentum of the progressive movement in New York City and reinforce the notion that public safety has become the top issue for voters.
“Adams used his approach on policing of saying we need justice and safety simultaneously to fuse together that traditional coalition,” said Bruce Gyory, a veteran Democratic strategist.
Ms. Wiley told her supporters on Tuesday night that the race was not over.
“Fifty percent of the votes are about to be recalculated,” she said to cheers.
Indeed, many voters ranked Ms. Wiley and Ms. Garcia in the first two spots on their ballots, and it is possible that one of them could capture many of the other’s supporters. They are both vying to be the city’s first female mayor, and that was a central message of their campaigns.
Mr. Adams ran as a working-class underdog and focused on communities that were hit hard by the pandemic — a message he touched on during his election night speech, said Christina Greer, an associate professor of political science at Fordham University.
“There are so many communities feeling left out and Adams, as his authentic self, seemed just as angry and hurt and inspired as those communities,” Ms. Greer said.