NYC mayoral race a sign that Democrats' soft-on-crime rhetoric isn't resonating

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Eric Adams’s presumptive victory in the New York City mayoral primary this week could send a signal to the Democratic Party that its rhetoric on crime and policing isn’t resonating with many voters on the Left.

A former New York City police officer, Adams narrowly won the primary on Tuesday after several rounds of ranked-choice voting calculations had been tabulated. On the night of the June 22 election, Adams had a much more formidable lead as the ranked-choice system, used in New York City for the first time this year, allowed voters’ second and third preferences factor into the tabulation.

Adams’s pro-police platform helped catapult him to the top of polls in the final stretch of the race, as voters increasingly listed public safety as their top concern.


While some of the other candidates in the race — such as Maya Wiley, the progressive candidate who ultimately placed third in the race — advocated for cutting millions of dollars from the city’s police budget, Adams stood firm against activists on the Left who pushed for defunding the police.

Adams also faced pushback from liberal opponents and progressives in the party for his support of a controversial police tactic called stop-and-frisk. The tactic allows officers to engage people on the street, question, or even search them — but the New York Police Department has faced criticism of abusing the practice and using it to profile people racially in the past.

Adams’s message on public safety differed from much of the mainstream Democratic rhetoric as he promoted the idea of taking on crime directly through law enforcement. Other Democrats, including President Joe Biden, have faced criticism from the Right for proposing policies that address social ills or community resources but don’t target criminals and crime head-on.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, faced such criticism this week responding to a spike in crime by signing a bill that will allow the state’s attorney general to sue gun manufacturers more easily and invest more than $130 million in gun violence reduction programs.

Minority Leader of the New York State Senate Rob Ortt, a Republican, called Cuomo’s move “political grandstanding.”

Crime in New York City has risen steadily, and Adams’s pro-law enforcement message resonated against that backdrop. Crime in the city climbed 22% between May 2020 and May of this year, with the rate of robberies jumping nearly 47% and the rate of shootings spiking 73% in that time period, according to the NYPD.

Despite eschewing the liberal rhetoric on race and policing that a number of his opponents embraced, Adams won on a diverse coalition of support that included large numbers of both white and black people without college degrees. He swept every borough of New York City except Manhattan, where former sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia pulled more support.

Garcia also ran as a centrist Democrat who did not support defunding the police, finishing roughly 1 percentage point behind Adams after the elimination rounds under ranked-choice voting completed. She conceded to Adams on Wednesday during a speech in Central Park.

The more progressive candidates, such as Wiley and Dianne Morales, trailed the centrist Democrats in what could be interpreted as a rejection of liberal language related to the most important issue in the race: crime.

Democrats appear to be acknowledging the nationwide rise in crime levels and the relative unpopularity of the “defund the police” movement in centrist districts they will need to win next year to retain their congressional majorities.


Biden delivered a speech on crime last month that outlined policies his administration would pursue to tamp down violence, including dedicating more resources to police departments. His remarks were widely viewed as shifting away from more liberal proposals to slash law enforcement budgets amid polls that show voters are increasingly concerned about safety.

A top Biden adviser also claimed last month that Republicans were attempting to defund police, earning a rebuke from the Washington Post fact-checker, deepening the perception that Democrats are recognizing the need to recalibrate their message on policing to avoid a soft-on-crime label.

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Tags: News, Eric Adams, Police, Andrew Cuomo, New York City

Original Author: Sarah Westwood

Original Location: NYC mayoral race a sign that Democrats' soft-on-crime rhetoric isn't resonating

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