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2019 New York City Public Advocate special election

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

2019 New York City Public Advocate special election

← 2017 February 26, 2019 2019 →
Jumaane Williams, OWS 2012 (portrait).jpg
Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito (6217502867) (cropped 2).jpg
Candidate Jumaane Williams Eric Ulrich Melissa Mark-Viverito
Party It's Time Let's Go Common Sense Fix the MTA
Popular vote 133,809 77,026 44,158
Percentage 33.2% 19.1% 11.0%

FEMA - 43929 - Michael Blake, from the White House, addresses the FEMA Black Le (cropped).jpg
NLN Ydanis Rodriguez 2008.jpg
Candidate Michael Blake Ydanis Rodriguez
Party For the People Unite Immigrants
Popular vote 33,198 24,266
Percentage 8.2% 6.0%

Borough results
Williams:      30–40%      40–50%
Ulrich:      <30%      50–60%
Blake:      <30%

Public Advocate before election

Letitia James

Elected Public Advocate

Jumaane Williams

The 2019 New York City Public Advocate special election was held on February 26, 2019, to fill part of the unexpired term of Letitia James's vacated seat as New York City Public Advocate. It was triggered on January 1, 2019, when James resigned to take office as Attorney General of New York.

By statute, New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson served as acting Public Advocate for the time between James’ resignation and the inauguration of Jumaane Williams, who won the election.

As with all special elections in New York City, it was officially nonpartisan, and candidates who file for the race had to create a unique party line that will be displayed on the ballot. A partisan primary and a November general election were held later in 2019 to complete the remaining years of James' term.[1]

As of 2022, this is the most recent election where a Republican party politician received the most votes in Queens County.



Following ballot petition challenges and appeals, the Board of Elections certified the subsequent list of candidates that are in chronological order of petition filings, along with their unique party lines, who appeared on the ballot in this sequence:[2][3][4][5]


  • Theo Chino, bitcoin entrepreneur[6]
  • Ifeoma Ike (Bring a chair), activist[7]
  • Walter Iwachiw, perennial candidate[8]
  • Abbey Laurel-Smith, artist[9]
  • Danniel Maio, business owner[10]
  • Gary Popkin, professor[4]
  • Michael Zumbluskas, activist[4]


§ Indicates candidate has withdrawn from race but will still appear on ballot


Speculation about a possible special election began before incumbent Tish James had won the Democratic primary for the office of New York Attorney General, with former speakers of the New York City Council Christine Quinn and Melissa Mark-Viverito being mentioned by the Gotham Gazette as potential frontrunners.[13] Of the two, Quinn was considered a moderate Democrat, while Mark-Viverito was seen as being on the left of the party.[13] Republican city councillor Joe Borelli was also considered a likely candidate, as the almost certainly numerous Democratic field was considered to have the potential to divide the vote enough for a Republican to win, despite New York City's heavily Democratic lean.[13] James proceeded to win the Attorney General primary, creating an almost certain opening for the Public Advocate seat.[14] The results of the statewide Democratic primaries that year created another frontrunner for the race, New York City councillor Jumaane Williams, who had narrowly lost the Democratic primary for Lieutenant Governor of New York, but had performed well in New York City, especially in Brooklyn.[14]

The first candidate to enter the race was activist Nomiki Konst on September 27, 2018.[15] Konst, a democratic socialist, announced an intent to run as an outsider.[15] State assemblyman Michael Blake entered the race on October 19, and Williams announced his candidacy four days later.[16] Williams was considered to be a staunchly left-wing Democrat, granting him potential support from the powerful progressive movement in the city, and his declaration that he would not run for Mayor of New York City in 2021 was thought to potentially allow him to win the support of prospective mayoral contenders.[17] However, Williams' past socially conservative statements were considered a potential liability of his, in spite of his repudiation of said statements.[18] City councillor Eric Ulrich eventually emerged as the strongest Republican candidate. A moderate Republican, Ulrich declared that he was "Pro-choice and Pro-Labor rights", and it was considered possible for him to win support from moderate Democrats, but his opposition to President Donald Trump was considered likely to depress Republican turnout.[19][20] Mark-Viverito entered the race on November 27.[21] Several other candidates entered the race over the course of late 2018, such as State assemblymen Daniel O'Donnell and Ron Kim, as well as City councillors Rafael Espinal and Ydanis Rodriguez.[2] Of these candidates, O'Donnell was considered to have an asset in that his assembly district was highly affluent and had a reputation for high voter turnout.[2]

A total of 17 candidates had their petitions to get on the ballot approved by the Board of Elections.[4] Originally, only 16 candidates were approved, but an appeal by minor candidate Helal Shiekh was successful and he was placed on the ballot.[4] The large field of candidates, featuring several prominent politicians, divided the New York City Council, with few members making endorsements as they had good relations with several different candidates.[22] In December 2018, several ballot initiatives were passed in New York City that made it substantially easier for candidates to publicly finance their campaigns.[23] This development was viewed as harming Mark-Viverito's campaign, as under the old financing rules she had had a large fundraising advantage over all other candidates, due to her several high-profile campaigns for the City Council.[23] Mark-Viverito's campaign also suffered from many left-wing groups, which had previously supported her, becoming disillusioned with her as a result of her tenure as City council speaker, where she had compromised on reforming the New York Police Department and had closely collaborated with Mayor Bill de Blasio on controversial rezoning decisions.[24]

The issues of Amazon potentially opening a large headquarters in New York and the mayoralty of de Blasio were both highly prevalent among the campaigns.[25] Most candidates vocally opposed Amazon's plan, with Ulrich being the only exception.[25] Most candidates also strongly criticised de Blasio's policies on housing rezoning and his pro-Amazon actions, and especially criticised his plans to run for President of the United States.[26] As the campaign progressed, Williams and Mark-Viverito emerged as the only candidates with a realistic shot at winning the election, though Blake was regarded as being third in the race and having an outside chance at winning.[27] Williams' campaign suffered from numerous controversies, such as allegations that he had not dealt with abusive behaviour within his campaign staff and revelations that he had received 27 speeding violations in school zones, but these controversies were noted as having surprisingly little effect on his popularity.[28]


2019 New York City Public Advocate special election debates
 No. Date & Time Host Moderator Link Participants
 P  Participant    A  Absent    N  Non-invitee    O  Out of race  
Michael Blake Rafael Espinal Ron Kim Nomiki Konst Melissa Mark-Viverito Daniel O'Donnell Ydanis Rodriguez Dawn Smalls Eric Ulrich Jumaane Williams
November 14, 2018
Ben Max
February 6, 2019
Politico New York
Errol Louis
Laura Nahmias
Grace Rauh
February 21, 2019


Michael Blake
Federal officials
State officials
Local officials
Labor unions
Rafael Espinal
Local officials
Labor unions
Newspapers and publications
Ron Kim
State officials
Local officials
Nomiki Konst
Federal officials
Local officials
Melissa Mark-Viverito
Federal officials
State officials
Local officials
Labor unions
Newspapers and publications
Daniel O'Donnell
Federal officials
State officials
Ydanis Rodriguez
Local officials
Eric Ulrich
Local officials
Newspapers and publications
Latrice Walker
Federal officials
Local officials
Jumaane Williams
State officials
Local officials
Labor unions
Newspapers and publications
Ben Yee


2019 New York City Public Advocate election results
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Jumaane Williams 133,809 33.2
Republican Eric Ulrich 77,026 19.1
Democratic Melissa Mark-Viverito 44,158 10.9
Democratic Michael Blake 33,198 8.2
Democratic Ydanis Rodriguez 24,266 6.0
Nonpartisan Dawn Smalls 16,522 4.1
Democratic Rafael Espinal 12,929 3.2
Democratic Daniel J. O'Donnell 11,477 2.85
Democratic Ron Kim 11,434 2.84
Nonpartisan Benjamin Yee 10,390 2.5
Democratic Nomiki Konst 9,339 2.3
Democratic Helal Sheik 5,179 1.2
Democratic David Eisenbach 3,200 0.79
Nonpartisan A. Manny Alicandro 3,002 0.75
Nonpartisan Anthony Herbert 2,918 0.72
Democratic Latrice Walker § 2,282 0.57
Nonpartisan Jared Rich 938 0.23
Nonpartisan Write-ins 711 0.18
Democratic hold
Total votes 402,778 100


Eli Valentin of the Gotham Gazette noted that Mark-Viverito had failed to win support from Latino voters that had been expected to back her campaign, which he attributed to both the presence of other Latino candidates in the race in the form of Rodriguez and Espinal, as well as Williams' surprisingly strong performance among Latino voters.[36] Williams' margin of victory was considered surprisingly large.[36]


  1. ^ Gould, Jessica (November 29, 2018). "Public Advocate Race Could Cause Cascade of Elections". WNYC. Retrieved January 6, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c Barkan, Ross (November 26, 2018). "Who Wants To Be NYC's Next Public Advocate?". Gothamist. Archived from the original on November 30, 2018. Retrieved January 6, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c Mays, Jeffrey C.; Neuman, William (January 4, 2019). "It's New York's Hottest Contest: The Race for Public Advocate (Really)". The New York Times. Retrieved January 6, 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d e Khurshid, Samar (January 30, 2019). "Public Advocate Special Election Ballot Finalized with 17 Candidates". Gotham Gazette. Retrieved February 10, 2019.
  5. ^ "The Contest List:Special Election Public Advocate" (PDF). New York City Board of Elections. January 30, 2019. Retrieved February 10, 2019.
  6. ^ Rivoli, Dan; Greene, Leonard (January 4, 2019). "NYC Public advocate candidate detained after heckling mayor on transit fares". New York Daily News. Retrieved July 17, 2021.
  7. ^ Bergin, Brigid (February 6, 2019). "First Time Candidates For Public Advocate Face Ballot Access Minefield, Other Challenges". Gothamist. Retrieved July 17, 2021.
  8. ^ Khurshid, Samar (January 24, 2019). "Public Advocate Special Election Field Narrows Slightly, with Ballot Challenge Decisions Looming". Gotham Gazette. Retrieved July 17, 2021.
  9. ^ Goba, Kadia (January 22, 2019). "More Candidates Drop From Public Advocate's Race". Bklyner. Retrieved July 17, 2021.
  10. ^ "Public Advocate Ballot Is Set For February!". PoliticsNY. January 29, 2019. Retrieved July 17, 2021.
  11. ^ Robin, Josh (September 17, 2018). "NYC's first lady isn't running for public advocate, but she won't rule out another office". NY1. Retrieved January 27, 2019.
  12. ^ "Quinn 'seriously considered' public advocate, but not running". The Villager. November 26, 2018. Archived from the original on January 28, 2019. Retrieved January 27, 2019.
  13. ^ a b c Khursid, Samar (September 4, 2018). "Potentially Crowded Public Advocate Special Election Could Feature Two Former Council Speakers". Gotham Gazette. Retrieved July 13, 2021.
  14. ^ a b Jorgensen, Jillian (September 15, 2018). "Public Advocate vacancy could draw crowded field including Melissa Mark-Viverito and Christine Quinn". New York Daily News. Retrieved July 13, 2021.
  15. ^ a b Gray, Briahna (September 27, 2018). "Democratic Socialist Nomiki Konst Announces Campaign for New York City Public Advocate". The Intercept. Retrieved July 13, 2021.
  16. ^ Manskar, Noah (October 23, 2018). "Jumaane Williams Joins Field Of Candidates For Public Advocate". Patch. Retrieved July 13, 2021.
  17. ^ Mays, Jeffrey C. (October 23, 2018). "'Even While Losing,' Councilman Sees a Way to Win: As Public Advocate". The New York Times. Retrieved July 13, 2021.
  18. ^ Coltin, Jeff (November 9, 2018). "NYC public advocate race the talk of Somos". City & State New York. Retrieved July 13, 2021.
  19. ^ a b Khurshid, Samar (November 14, 2018). "At First Debate, Candidates for Public Advocate Pitch Visions for the Role". Gotham Gazette. Retrieved July 14, 2021.
  20. ^ Coltin, Jeff (November 27, 2018). "Could a Republican win the New York City public advocate race?". City & State New York. Retrieved July 14, 2021.
  21. ^ Jorgensen, Jillian (November 27, 2018). "Melissa Mark-Viverito announces 'intense' bid for New York City public advocate". New York Daily News. Retrieved July 14, 2021.
  22. ^ Jorgensen, Jillian (December 22, 2018). "Big field of candidates for public advocate makes endorsing awkward for fellow City Council members". New York Daily News. Retrieved July 14, 2021.
  23. ^ a b Barkan, Ross (December 19, 2018). "Thursday's City Council Vote Could Dramatically Alter Public Advocate Race". Gothamist. Retrieved July 14, 2021.
  24. ^ Gartland, Michael; Jorgensen, Jillian (February 24, 2019). "Mark-Viverito faces backlash from progressives in public advocate race". New York Daily News. Retrieved July 14, 2021.
  25. ^ a b c Max, Ben; Khurshid, Samar (February 21, 2019). "In Second Debate, Public Advocate Candidates Argue Over Amazon, Insult De Blasio & Make Closing Cases". Gotham Gazette. Retrieved July 14, 2021.
  26. ^ Coltin, Jeff (February 21, 2019). "Public advocate candidates blitz de Blasio and Amazon, draw distinctions". City & State New York. Retrieved July 14, 2021.
  27. ^ Freedlander, David (February 19, 2021). "The Obscure, Overcrowded Election That Could Change New York City Politics". New York Magazine. Retrieved July 15, 2021.
  28. ^ McDonough, Anne (February 24, 2019). "Is Jumaane Williams made of Teflon?". City & State New York. Retrieved July 15, 2021.
  29. ^ Max, Ben; Khurshid, Samar (February 7, 2019). "In First Debate, Public Advocate Candidates Take on De Blasio, Amazon & Each Other". Gotham Gazette. Retrieved July 14, 2021.
  30. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj bk bl bm bn bo bp bq br bs bt bu bv bw bx by bz ca cb cc cd ce cf cg ch ci cj ck cl cm cn co cp cq cr cs ct cu cv cw cx cy cz da db dc Coltin, Jeff (February 24, 2019). "The endorsements for NYC public advocate candidates". City & State New York. Retrieved July 7, 2021.
  31. ^ Tracy, Matt (January 30, 2019). "Ydanis Rodriguez Deepens Ties to Religious Homophobes". Gay City News. Retrieved July 10, 2021.
  32. ^ "Reverendo Rubén Díaz y líderes de El Bronx endosan la candidatura de Ydanis Rodríguez a Defensor del Pueblo" [Reverend Rubén Díaz and leaders of the Bronx endorse the candidacy of Ydanis Rodríguez for Public Advocate]. Tamboril News. January 25, 2019. Retrieved September 11, 2021.
  33. ^ "Vote Eric Ulrich for public advocate Feb. 26". Queens Chronicle. February 21, 2019. Retrieved July 17, 2021.
  34. ^ "The New York Times Endorses Jumaane Williams for Public Advocate". New York Progressive Action Network. February 21, 2019. Retrieved August 17, 2021.
  35. ^ Mangla, Mavi (January 17, 2019). "Citizen Action Endorses Jumaane Williams for NYC Public Advocate" (Press release). Citizen Action NY. Retrieved August 17, 2021.
  36. ^ a b Valentin, Eli (March 8, 2019). "The Aftermath of the Public Advocate Race". Gotham Gazette. Retrieved October 5, 2021.
This page was last edited on 8 July 2022, at 12:28
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