Letitia James wins Democratic runoff for public advocate

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Councilmember Letitia James defeated State Senator Daniel Squadron in the primary runoff for public advocate, clinching the Democratic nomination.

James received 59.4 percent of the vote in the election, and Squadron 40.6 percent with 100 percent of the precincts reporting, according to unofficial results.

“I ran for public advocate because all of my life I’ve seen New Yorkers persevere and I’ve seen the role that government can play in helping uplift working people. And as someone who comes from humble beginnings and never forgets that fact, I’ve experienced it myself,” James said in her victory speech.

James, with no Republican challenger, is expected to win the general election. She will be the first woman of color to hold citywide office if elected.

“All of us broke through that glass ceiling,” she said. “I am so proud of what we accomplished together, and yes, I’m proud that we made history tonight.”

Tuesday’s race was the only runoff to be held this year.

The election, which had a low voter turnout of about 188,000, according to unofficial results, drew criticism for its reported $13 million price tag. The cost led to calls for changes to the system, such as instant runoff voting.

The public advocate office, created in 1993 to serve as the city’s watchdog, only has a budget of around $2.3 million.

Currently, if any citywide candidate doesn’t get at least 40 percent of the vote, the top two vote getters must have a runoff election.

In the September 10 primary, where the two faced three other candidates, James received 36 percent of the vote and Squadron 33 percent.

With a close primary and the anticipated low turnout, the two Brooklyn politicians battled for votes during the last three weeks.

Both candidates traded criticisms over the other’s finances and ties to Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The sparring continued through the day of the runoff.

Squadron confirmed on Twitter Tuesday that his campaign was the source of robocalls referencing a New York Daily News article challenging whether James donated her council stipend to charity as promised.

“We ran this campaign making the case that the public advocate’s office can be essential to our city – getting results for New Yorkers who need them,” Squadron said in a statement, conceding later that night.

“And I know that Tish will be their great advocate for New Yorkers across the city. She ran a great campaign.”

James, a councilmember for Brooklyn’s District 35, will be running against Green Party candidate James Lane and Libertarian candidate Alex Merced in the November 5 general election.



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