By David M. Greenwald
New York – Reformers are naturally nervous about the election in New York today. Unlike the mayor’s race, the DA’s race has no ranked choice voting. With four fairly strong reform-minded candidates, that could pose a problem against Tali Farhadian Weinstein—the mainstream candidate who dominated the field in spending, throwing in more than $8 million of her own money.
Because this is a winner-takes-all partisan primary, it’s not a top two choice for a General Election. Instead the Democratic candidates will beat each other up, and the one remaining standing will face a nominal Republican in the General and most likely win handily.
If we are to believe the polling from Data for Progress, this is now a two-person race.
Alvin Bragg leads the field in the race for Manhattan DA with 34 percent, followed by Tali Farhadian Weinstein at 25 percent, and Tahanie Aboushie at 10 percent.
David Menschel tweeted, “He wasn’t my first choice, but harm reduction is important.”
He added, “Bragg wasn’t initially my pick, but it’s NOT a ranked-choice election and it’s important that we defeat Tali Farhadian Weinstein.”
Farhadian Weinstein has hurt herself lately, as the scandal emerged in a ProPublica report that, despite she and her husband making millions, they have hardly paid any federal taxes. This would not be a small issue given that it is this office that could prosecute former President Donald Trump.
Alvin Bragg was born and raised in Harlem. As a Nation endorsement notes: “Bragg has been stopped and frisked at gunpoint three times by the NYPD simply because of the color of his skin. He has witnessed up close the trauma the system imposes on those swept into it, helping his own brother-in-law rebuild his life after time in prison.
“A year after George Floyd’s murder, he would be the first Black Manhattan District Attorney: a rarity in a field where 95 percent of prosecutors are white,” they write.
He went to Harvard Law School, served in the New York Attorney General’s office, and led “some of the office’s biggest cases—from launching the probe of the Trump Foundation to cracking down on tenant harassment. As an assistant US attorney in New York’s Southern District, he prosecuted corrupt politicians and an FBI agent for lying.”
Further he is a “major advocate for getting rid of a bad law in New York that covers up police misconduct (50a), and for ending stop and frisk. And where the rubber hits the road, where he had to stand up against his own colleagues to prosecute prosecutors and law enforcement, he did it, bringing a difficult anti-corruption case against an upstate prosecutor, not something that makes you popular with other DAs, but a demonstration of leadership that has led to profound respect of reformers.”
The Nation believes, and the polling from Data for Progressive appears to bear that out: “He’s also the only progressive in the field with a real shot of winning, thanks to impressive credentials and major support from big unions, heavyweights like Preet Bharara, Color of Change—the largest online racial justice organization in the country—and grassroots community groups.”
Data for Progressive also shows in previous polling that the majority of Manhattan voters are supportive of a progressive agenda.
In a recent poll, 86 percent of voters—including 90 percent of Democrats, 75 percent of Independents, and 79 percent of Republicans—support the creation of an independent unit within the DA’s office to investigate police misconduct.
Moreover, “80 percent of voters want their next DA to prioritize investigating and prosecuting police misconduct, and 68 percent want the office to focus on overturning past convictions where police and prosecutorial misconduct is found.”
Additionally, the poll found:
- 52 percent of voters would be more likely to vote for a DA candidate who supports ending the use of cash bail, compared to just 32 percent who would be less inclined to vote for such a candidate;
- 69 percent of voters want the next DA to shift resources away from prosecuting low-level offenses—such as drug possession and disorderly conduct—to focus only on serious crimes;
- 61 percent of voters—including 65 percent of Democrats, 57 percent of Independents, and half of Republicans—prefer candidates who promise to stop prosecuting consensual sex work;
- 52 percent of voters, including 68 percent of Democrats and 59 percent of Independents, would be more willing to vote for a candidate who promised to stop prosecuting crimes related to homelessness and addiction.
But none of that could matter if the four progressives split their vote enough.
Data for Progress cites that Farhadian Weinstein was the only candidate who did not sign on to a May letter calling for the DA to vacate convictions “whenever an NYPD officer is convicted of crimes relating to their duties.”
She has also declined to issue a decline-to-prosecute list.
Will the polling hold up tonight? Stay tuned.
—David M. Greenwald reporting
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