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What Happened: 2021 Primary Night Roundup
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Credit: New York NOW

Major Upsets on Primary Night; NYC Race Still Unclear

Voters cast their ballots across New York Tuesday to decide who would represent their party heading into the general election in November.

For key races in the state, the primary election decides who's expected to take the seat in November. That's the case in most of the state's larger urban areas, where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by a significant amount.

But this year, New York saw a few major upsets Tuesday, with some new faces expected to lead at least two of the state's major cities starting next year.

In Buffalo, incumbent Mayor Byron Brown Loses to India Walton

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, a Democrat who's served as the city's executive since 2006, was defeated at the polls Tuesday by India Walton, a self-described socialist who would be the city's first female mayor.

Something to watch, heading into next year, is Walton's relationship with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes, also a Democrat from Buffalo.

Both Brown and Peoples-Stokes are considered allies to Cuomo, who's currently under investigation over claims of sexual harassment, using state resources to write his book last year, and his administration's handling of nursing homes.

Cuomo has denied those allegations, and has suggested the claims will be refuted through the investigations.

More from our partners at WBFO:

Walton has secured 52% of in-person votes, compared to Brown’s 45% in the unoffficial election night tally from the Erie County Board of Elections. 

Walton’s lead of approximately 1,500 votes is about equal to the number of absentee ballots left to be counted, making it highly unlikely Brown could mount a comeback. However, Brown refused to concede until all absentee ballots were counted.

“This victory is ours,” she said. “If you are in an elected office right now, you are being put on notice. We are coming.”

Full Story from WBFO:

In Rochester, Malik Evans Defeats Incumbent Mayor Lovely Warren

Rochester will soon have a new mayor after Malik Evans, a member of the city council, defeated incumbent Mayor Lovely Warren, who took office in 2014.

Warren has been plagued by a series of controversies in recent years, including a felony indictment last year over alleged campaign finance violations.

Most recently, Warren's husband was charged with felony criminal possession of a firearm, as well as drug charges. He's pleaded not guilty, and Warren has said that they're separated.

Warren has also faced criticism over the city's handling last year of the death of Daniel Prude, who died after an interaction with police while he was experiencing a mental health crisis. 

Evans is now expected to become the city's next mayor. He's also secured the Working Families Party line on the ballot for November, and doesn't face a challenger.

It's unclear what relationship Evans has with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and leaders in Albany. 

Rochester's delegation in the state Legislature added two new Democrats in the State Senate this past year — Sen. Samra Brouk and Sen. Jeremy Cooney — which has signaled growing support for Democrats in the region. 

More from our partners at WXXI News:

Unofficial results from the Monroe County Board of Elections as of 10:50 p.m. had Evans leading Warren 67% to 33%, with 105 of 113 election districts reporting.

Evans declared victory at 10:30 p.m., bounding onto the stage in the penthouse at the East Avenue office building that doubled as his campaign headquarters.

“Tonight is the beginning of putting Rochester in the upper echelon of cities where it belongs,” an ebullient Evans said.

Warren conceded defeat about a half-hour later, addressing supporters at The Sidebar on South Avenue.

"When you lose everything, you recognize what matters," she said.

Full story from WXXI News:

In Albany, Mayor Kathy Sheehan Coasts to Primary Win

In Albany, incumbent Mayor Kathy Sheehan defeated challenger Rev. Valerie Faust by about 1,600 in-person votes, and there weren't enough absentee ballots returned to the county Board of Elections for Faust to gain ground.

That's according to our partners at the Times Union. 

You can read their full story here:

The result wasn't a surprise; neither candidate held a particularly robust campaign heading into the primary.

Instead, Sheehan relied on support from local Democratic officials, and voters who've supported her since she was first elected to the job in 2013. Faust, meanwhile, staged a boots-on-the-ground approach to reaching voters.

It will be Sheehan's third term in office. She had previously said she wouldn't run for a third term, but changed her mind. 

Our Darrell Camp spoke to Sheehan after she visited a polling place on Tuesday:

New York City Mayoral Race Undecided After Results

There was no declared winner in the race for mayor of New York City Tuesday evening, though Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams led in the initial results.

But that could change. New York City chose to move forward this year with what's called ranked choice voting, which is a system in which voters rank their preferred five candidates.

When a candidate is determined to have the fewest number of votes among their challengers, they're then eliminated. Then, voters who ranked that person as their first choice will have their vote reallocated to their second choice.

That continues until there's a winner, which could take a few weeks.

As of Tuesday evening, Adams had secured about 31% of votes cast in-person. That's more than any other candidate, but that could change if ranked choice voting secures his opponents enough votes to trounce him. 

The next two candidates with the most votes Tuesday were Kathryn Garcia and Maya Wiley. 

Andrew Yang, a former candidate for president, dropped out of the race Tuesday, saying the results wouldn't pan out in his favor, regardless of how he's ranked by voters.

Our partners at Gothamist have a fantastic interactive map of the primary results across the five boroughs, showing where each candidate received support.

Syracuse Mayoral Election Won't Be Decided Until November

While the results of the primary election in Syracuse are being finalized, the race for mayor won't be decided until November.

That's because the current mayor, Ben Walsh, is an independent. There were primaries for both the Democratic and Republican nomination Tuesday, but those candidates will go on to challenge Walsh in the general election.

More on last night's results from our partners at WRVO:

The Democratic primary for mayor of Syracuse is too close to call. Common Councilor Khalid Bey leads by less than 1%, just 46 votes, over the party’s designated candidate and fellow councilor Michael Greene. Bey said he remains optimistic, but doesn’t feel good about almost winning.

“I’m certainly appreciative of the fact so far, a majority of the voters supported me,” Bey said. “I’ll take 46. But hopefully when the absentees are counted, the outcome will be the same or greater.”

Full story from WRVO:


New York NOW

The Race for New York City Mayor

Rating: NR

Preview the primary and learn about the top contenders for New York City mayor.


Mayor Lovely Warren: 'This here isn't an ending, it's just a beginning'

Mayor Lovely Warren concedes defeat in the Democratic primary on Tuesday at The Sidebar on South Avenue. Warren, the two-term incumbent, lost to Malik Evans.


Malik Evans: 'Are we ready to take Rochester to the top?'

Malik Evans declares victory in the Democratic primary over Mayor Lovely Warren on Tuesday, June 22, 2021. The win all but assures him the mayoralty in November. Video by WXXI's Katie Epner.

Sheehan Victory Party

Faust Concedes in Albany

Assm. McDonald on Ranked Choice Voting in New York City