The primary season ended in a rather anticlimactic fashion Tuesday night. The runoff election most pundits thought several months ago would decide the city’s next mayor, instead only decided who would serve as his next-in-line for the next four years.
And even then, fewer than 200,000 voters showed up to choose the likely successor to Public Advocate Bill de Blasio — the Democratic nominee for mayor — in January.
Those who did pull the lever Tuesday voted overwhelmingly for Councilwoman Letitia James (D-Brooklyn) who defeated her opponent, state Sen. Dan Squadron (D-Brooklyn) 59 percent to 41 percent, according to unofficial citywide results. They qualified for the primary by being the top two vote getters on Sept. 10, finishing with 33 and 30 percent of the vote, respectively. Both the mayoral and comptroller elections did not head to runoffs because the winners — de Blasio and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer — won more than 40 percent of the vote outright.
In Queens, the candidates performed about equally as well Tuesday night despite the county party’s surprise endorsement last week of James, who sits on the City Council as a member of the Working Families Party and caucuses with Democrats. Many of the borough’s state legislators had already been behind Squadron, who was the only state official running for citywide office this year.
James defeated Squadron in Long Island City, Ridgewood, East Elmhurst and won nearly every precinct in Southeast Queens, while Squadron handily defeated James in Whitestone, Middle Village, Maspeth, Jamaica Estates and Little Neck. The two candidates split the total in the borough’s most voter-rich neighborhoods, including Astoria, Bayside, Forest Hills, Flushing, Jackson Heights and the Rockaways.
James is almost assured of victory in November as Republicans did not field a candidate for the public advocate’s office, though she faces minor party opponents. If she does win, she will be the first black woman elected to citywide office.
The position of public advocate was created in 1993 and is modeled after the former job of president of the City Council, a citywide office that had a vote on the city’s Board of Estimates, which was disbanded after being declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court four years earlier. The public advocate serves as an ombudsman between the city government and its residents, has the power to introduce legislation in the City Council and is first in line to succeed the mayor should the office be vacated.
There have only been three people to serve as public advocate: Mark Green, Betsy Gotbaum and de Blasio — all Democrats.