The Democratic primary for an office few New Yorkers are familiar with, the city’s Public Advocate, provided no clear-cut winner as the two leading candidates, state Sen. Dan Squadron (D-Manhattan and Brooklyn) and City Council Member Letitia James (D-Brooklyn) both failed to get 40 percent of the vote and will now face each other in a run-off election next month.
As of Wednesday morning, with more than 98 percent of city precincts reporting, James had 36 percent of the vote with Squadron just behind at 33 percent. By law, a run-off election must be held when no candidate achieves at least 40 percent of the vote. The runoff election is scheduled for Oct. 1.
Squadron, whose district includes parts of Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, issued a statement late Tuesday touting his “momentum and grassroots support” heading into the runoff. Squadron was endorsed by the New York Times as well as by U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-New York).
“Over the next 21 days, we’ll keep talking about my record – about results, reform, and integrity,” Squadron said in a prepared statement. “And we will talk about my plan to make the Public Advocate’s office essential to our city, getting results for New Yorkers who need them.”
By contrast, James, a progressive Council voice whose backing includes major city labor unions, said little, only issuing a few sparse tweets thanking her supporters and exclaiming, “On to the run-off!” A spokesman for James did not respond to requests seeking comment.
Both candidates have cited the city’s lack of affordable housing and scarcity of jobs as being major issues which need to be addressed.
And, despite the fact that neither James nor Squadron could muster 40 percent of the vote, the other three Democratic candidates fared even worse. The other candidates included Catherine Guerriero, a college professor, former deputy Public Advocate ReshmaSaujani, and SidiqueWai, a consultant for the New York Police Department.
Arguably, the Public Advocate’s office itself suffers from an acute PR problem as well as a relatively small budget, with many city residents admitting to being completely in the dark as to the office’s primary functions.
Created in 1993, the public advocate is something of a watchdog post to give voice to residents’ complaints and concerns. Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio has held the office of public advocate since being elected in 2009.
“Thank you to all of our supporters,” added Squadron. “We wouldn’t have gotten this far without you. Now let’s bring it home.”
By Alan Krawitz