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Former federal prosecutor set to win Manhattan DA primary

Alvin Bragg stands with his wife, Jamila Bragg, at an election night rally as he addresses supporters in New York City late Tuesday, June 22, 2021. | Craig Ruttle / AP Photo

NEW YORK – Former Federal Attorney Alvin Bragg paved the way for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Democratic primary, edging out a field of seven other candidates vying to become the likely successor to incumbent DA Cy Vance.

Bragg, if he wins the general election in November, would become Black Manhattan’s first district attorney and take charge of a high-profile investigation into former President Donald Trump’s businesses, as well as other major inquiries.

Early Wednesday morning, Bragg had 34 percent of the vote in the borough, compared with 30 percent for Tali Farhadian Weinstein, with nearly 90 percent of constituencies reporting. Absentee ballots still need to be counted.

In a speech on election night, he stopped before declaring victory but said he was confident in his lead. “We’re going to do things a little differently in Manhattan,” Bragg said.

Bragg, a former deputy attorney general and federal prosecutor, has assembled the largest coalition in the overcrowded race, winning over both progressive and moderate supporters with his biography and promises of reform. It was enough to soften the impact of a wave of publicity from the other favorite of the race, Farhadian Weinstein.

The primary for the district attorney, because it is a state office, did not use the ranked choice voting system used in the primaries for the mayor and other city offices. . It was also not governed by the city’s stricter campaign finance laws.

Bragg, from Harlem, has often spoken of being arrested and searched three times at gunpoint by the NYPD, incidents that shaped his view of the criminal justice system.

He lobbied to reduce incarceration and listed the minor offenses he would refuse to prosecute. But he stopped before adopting the positions of the most left-wing candidates in the race, such as halving the prosecutor’s office.

His closest competitor was Farhadian Weinstein, a former Brooklyn DA general counsel, who ran on a moderate platform and was backed by Wall Street money and a $ 8.2 million donation to his own. countryside.

In a speech on election night, she said the race remains too close to be announced. “I wish I could be here to tell you that this thing is over, but I think we all knew before today that this election was not going to be decided tonight, and it was not,” he said. she declared. “I ask for your patience. We made a lasting promise to fight for security and fairness.

Tahanie Aboushi, a civil rights lawyer, was the favorite of the militant left, with a platform that called for sharply cut prosecutions and halve the top prosecutor’s budget. She was in third place Tuesday night with 11% of the vote.

Eliza Orlins, a public defender, took similar positions. Assembly member Dan Quart also pledged to reduce prosecutions and penalties and stop prosecuting many offenses. They were both single-digit in the preliminary vote total, as were former prosecutors Lucy Lang and Diana Florence, and Liz Crotty, who showed up on the more traditional law and order platform. .

Vance, who won the DA seat in 2009, announced in March that he would not be running again. By then, a wide range of candidates were already vying to replace him.

Bragg was the first candidate to officially declare what was then to be a primary challenge against Vance, and harshly criticized the DA’s record, saying he had a different standard of justice for the rich and the powerful.

Bragg was backed by former US prosecutor Preet Bharara, unions including the United Teachers’ Federation and 1199SEIU, and a host of Harlem politicians. It also gained support from the New York Times.

He was one of the attorneys representing Eric Garner’s family in a successful lawsuit seeking a judicial inquiry into his death, and Garner’s mother Gwen Carr backed him up.

The DA race became controversial in its final stage.

Bragg, as well as Quart, have been struck down by Farhadian Weinstein in ads calling them bad for victims of violence against women. The ad cited responses to a candidate questionnaire in which the two said they would drop some domestic violence charges, particularly those where both sides filed complaints against each other but neither wanted to proceed.

Bragg said the ads played in racist tropes that black men were a danger to women.

Competitors also criticized Bragg for his record as head of a unit in the AG’s office dedicated to investigating police killings of unarmed civilians, which did not obtain any convictions.

Meanwhile, Farhadian Weinstein came under attack over a report in ProPublica, which obtained tax records from Farhadian Weinstein and found that she and her husband had paid virtually no federal tax over the years. last years. Rivals also hit her for investing so much money in the race.

And the left fought over the best way to go in the race. Zephyr Teachout, law professor and former gubernatorial candidate, urged progressives to unite behind Bragg. “It’s thanks to Farhadian Weinstein and Bragg. A locked prosecutor and a reformer who pledged to end mass incarceration ”, she said. “Please vote for Bragg.”

But Cynthia Nixon, another former left-wing challenger to Governor Andrew Cuomo and a supporter of Aboushi, disagreed. “Your point of view is short-sighted, privileged and quite simply false” she said.

A Republican candidate, Thomas Kenniff, who was not opposed to the party’s nomination, will be on the ballot in November. But Bragg is widely favored in an overwhelming Manhattan Democratic majority.

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