Business

The Eric Adams Lesson for Democrats


Democratic mayoral candidate Eric Adams greets NYPD officers in New York, July 7.



Photo:

John Minchillo/Associated Press

It took two weeks of counting, but former police captain

Eric Adams

has finally won New York’s Democratic mayoral primary. Perhaps the city that these days never sleeps safely has a chance to reverse its eight-year downward spiral under mayor

Bill de Blasio.

The city Board of Elections late Tuesday showed Mr. Adams leading second-place finisher

Kathryn Garcia

50.5% to 49.5% with fewer than 1% of votes outstanding. The Brooklyn borough president declared victory, and he wasted no time describing how his focus on crime set him apart from fellow Democrats.

“We have abandoned our cities,” Mr. Adams said Wednesday on CBS’s “This Morning,” when asked what lessons his victory might give to Democrats nationwide. “What’s happening in New York City is taking place in Chicago’s South Side. It’s taking place in California, in Atlanta. You’re seeing gun violence, and it’s so pervasive.” Mr. Adams pledged to put more officers on the street.

The primary wasn’t originally a single-issue contest. Then the rate of shootings, which started rising last summer, this May reached a 73% increase over 2020. An Ipsos poll that month found that crime had eclipsed the pandemic as voters’ top concern.

Mr. de Blasio gave voters a clear sense of the choice they faced by consistently denying the crime problem. He held a press conference Tuesday to celebrate a drop in shootings last month compared with June 2020, but he failed to mention that they remained 85% above June 2019. Mr. Adams has said that “denying what is happening in broad daylight is contributing to the problem.”

Mr. Adams’s victory is all the more impressive in that he did it by winning the minority vote in the outer boroughs and much of majority-white Staten Island. Ms. Garcia, endorsed like Mr. de Blasio by the

New York Times,

did better in the tonier parts of Manhattan. Mr. Adams rescued the party from the gentry left.

Other Democrats have slowly figured out they have a crime problem. But unlike Mr. Adams, they still attribute it almost entirely to guns, rather than the progressive vilification of police that has left neighborhoods unprotected.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo

this week called gun violence a state emergency and signed new gun-control legislation. He’d do better to repeal the state’s bail reform law, which frees suspects of grave crimes to return to the streets as they await a trial.

Mr. Adams is likely to defeat GOP nominee

Curtis Sliwa

in November, and he would face pressure as mayor to walk back policies that strengthen policing, such as reinstating the NYPD’s plainclothes units. But crime and public order are measurable, and his tenure would be judged by that standard. America’s largest city needs the next mayor to make the streets safe again.

Wonder Land: Progressives can win elections, but there’s a problem: They don’t know how to govern. Images: AP/Getty Images Composite: Mark Kelly

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Appeared in the July 8, 2021, print edition.



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