Former federal prosecutor Alvin Bragg is on track to become Manhattan’s first Black district attorney, bringing to the office a promise of reforms, improving public safety and quality of life amid a rise in gun violence, and taking over the investigation into President Donald Trump’s businesses. Bragg’s next closest rival in the Democratic primary conceded Friday afternoon.
With Manhattan overwhelmingly Democrat, Bragg is likely to win the November general election. The district attorney post is often considered the most powerful law enforcement post in the nation.
In a statement posted onto Twitter on Friday, Tali Farhadian Weinstein, a fellow federal prosecutor, said she’d called Bragg that afternoon to congratulate him and tell him she was bowing out of the race.
“We have now counted a majority of paper ballots, and though we fought a hard race, it became clear that we cannot overcome the vote margin,” she said, acknowledging her disagreements with Bragg over the course of the campaign. “But I am confident in Alvin’s commitment to justice, and I stand ready to support him.”
When I entered JFK Airport on Christmas Eve of 1979 with my mother and brother to start a new life, none of us could have begun to imagine that one day I would run for one of the most prominent criminal justice offices in our nation. /1 pic.twitter.com/TGCsLCPpyt
— Tali Farhadian Weinstein 溫塔莉 (@TaliFarhadian) July 2, 2021
On primary night Bragg led Farhadian Weinstein by 7,200 votes, with about 39,000 absentee ballots still outstanding. City Board of Elections workers began sifting through those ballots on Monday and by Thursday evening had made it through 23,000 according to unofficial tabulations obtained by Gothamist/WNYC.
Bragg had picked up an additional 8,200 votes to Farhadian Weinstein’s 7,300. Unlike city races for mayor, comptroller, city council and borough presidents, ranked-choice voting did not apply, so the simple first count of ballots determined the winner.
“Thanks to the thousands of Manhattanites who came together to say in one clear voice that #JusticeCantWait,” Bragg, who grew up and remains a resident of Harlem, wrote on Twitter.
Bragg ran a left-leaning campaign on pledges to decline all charges stemming from consensual sex work, to rarely seeking cash bail, and to advocate for release of incarcerated people seeking parole. Bragg had worked as a chief deputy attorney general under disgraced former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and as an assistant U.S. Attorney under former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District, Preet Bharara, who’d endorsed his campaign.
On the campaign trail he’d often recounted his own personal experiences with the criminal justice system growing up in Harlem, losing loved ones to gun violence or seeing them prosecuted harshly for low-level offenses. He also recalled instances when he was stopped and frisked at gunpoint by police.
Progressive support had splintered in the race, with the Working Families Party backing civil rights attorney Tahanie Aboushi, while Color of Change PAC, a super PAC with the aim of electing progressive prosecutors to seats countrywide, had backed Bragg, committing $1 million to his campaign.
But Bragg’s funding paled in comparison to Farhadian Weinstein, who ran a more centrist campaign focused on clamping down on hate crimes and violence against women, and who put $8.2 million towards her own campaign, outspending every other candidate in the race.
Activists vowed to hold Bragg to the promises he made on the campaign trail when he’s likely to succeed current Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance next January.
“We’ll be making sure Bragg follows through on commitments he made while campaigning,” said Keli Young, Civil Rights Campaign Coordinator with VOCAL-NY in a statement. “It will be up to us—those directly impacted, leaders, organizers, and advocates—to continue to push for reforms.”