A year after voters pushed Republicans fully out of power in Washington, the party had a strong election night on Tuesday, highlighted by Glenn Youngkin’s victory in Virginia’s governor’s race.
Here is a run-down of election results from some of the closely watched races around the country on Tuesday.
Virginia governor’s race
Businessman Glenn Youngkin, a Republican, defeated former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat who struggled to generate enthusiasm among liberals at a moment when conservatives are energized in opposition to Mr. Biden.
The victory by Mr. Youngkin, a first-time candidate in one of only two gubernatorial races before next year’s midterm election, may provide his party with a formula for how to exploit President Biden’s vulnerabilities and evade the shadow of former President Donald J. Trump in Democratic-leaning states.
New Jersey governor’s race
Former Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, a moderate Republican, surprised many analysts with a strong showing in the race for governor in New Jersey against Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat seeking a second term who was ahead in most public polling before Tuesday’s contest.
The race was too close to call early Wednesday.
New York City
In the city’s mayoral race, Eric Adams, a former police captain and Brooklyn borough president, easily dispatched his long shot Republican candidate, Curtis Sliwa, to become only the second Black person elected mayor in the city’s history.
And Alvin Bragg was elected Manhattan district attorney. He will become the first Black person to lead the influential office, which handles tens of thousands of cases a year and is conducting a high-profile investigation into former President Donald J. Trump and his family business.
Boston mayor’s race
Michelle Wu easily defeated City Councilor Annissa Essaibi George to become the first woman, first person of color and first person of Asian descent to be elected mayor in Boston. The city has been led by an unbroken string of Irish American or Italian American men since the 1930s.
Minneapolis police ballot item
Minneapolis residents rejected an amendment that called for replacing the city’s long-troubled Police Department with a new Department of Public Safety, The Associated Press projected.
The ballot item emerged from anger after a Minneapolis police officer murdered George Floyd last year, galvanizing residents who saw the policing system as irredeemably broken.
Glenn Youngkin, a Republican business executive, marched to victory in Tuesday’s election, delivering his party the governorship of Virginia and highlighting a strong night for Republicans less than a year after voters pushed them fully out of power in the nation’s capital.
The outcome in Virginia, combined with an unexpectedly close contest in New Jersey, where the governor’s race remained too close to call, delivered a jolt of encouragement for Republicans and a stark warning sign for the Democrats less than 10 months into President Biden’s term.
Here are five takeaways from Tuesday’s contests and what the results could mean for 2022, when control of the House, Senate and 36 governorships will be on the ballot:
Youngkin’s success across the state offers a G.O.P. pathway.
Republicans suffered repeated down-ballot losses in the past four years, as the party grappled with how to motivate a base deeply yoked to Donald J. Trump without alienating the suburban voters who came to reject the former president’s divisive style of politics.
Enter Glenn Youngkin and his fleece vest.
Mr. Youngkin pulled off something of a surprise and rare feat: He drove up the Republican margins in white and rural parts of the state further than Mr. Trump had, cutting into the edge of the Democratic nominee, former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, in suburban areas. He even flipped some key counties entirely.
Mr. Youngkin had campaigned heavily on education and seized on Mr. McAuliffe’s remark that he didn’t “believe parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” Mr. Youngkin used the comment, made during a debate, as an entryway to hammer his rival on issues like race and transgender rights in schools. The issues simultaneously motivated the G.O.P. base while casting the matter to moderates as an issue of parental rights.
All politics are presidential. But Biden loomed larger than Trump.
To the extent that the Youngkin victory provided a fresh G.O.P. blueprint, the surprisingly strong showing in New Jersey by the Republican candidate, Jack Ciattarelli, who was virtually tied with Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, made plain that the political environment had seriously degraded for Democrats nationally.
A national NBC News poll in late October showed that 45 percent of registered voters approved of the job Mr. Biden was doing, compared with 52 percent who disapproved.
Such diminished standing offered Republicans an opportunity even in traditionally blue territory.
Strategists in both parties said that the Virginia race was heavily shaped by Mr. Biden’s falling approval rating, and that the downward Democratic trajectory had begun when the president stumbled through the troubled pullout of American troops from Afghanistan.
Mr. McAuliffe and the Democrats never recovered.
The G.O.P. margins make it even more worrisome for Democrats in 2022.
The headline, of course, is that Mr. Youngkin won. But for political strategists focused on the midterms in 2022, his final margin is every bit as revealing about the trajectory of the two parties.
Because Mr. Biden carried Virginia by 10 percentage points in 2020, a Youngkin victory represents a Republican improvement of more than 10 percentage points in exactly one year.
Just as worrisome for the Democrats is that of the 36 governorships up for grabs in 2022, eight are now held by Democrats in states that had a smaller Democratic margin of victory in 2020 than Virginia, according to an election memo for donors from the Republican Governors Association. That list includes three of the most crucial presidential battlegrounds: Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.
The political middle still matters.
The American electorate is increasingly polarized, and a shrinking sliver of voters oscillates between the two major parties. But those voters still matter. For every vote that flips to the other side, a campaign must find two new voters to make up for the lost ground.
For years, it was the Democrats in Virginia who were obsessed with cutting into the margins in Republican strongholds and the suburbs.
Yet in 2021, Mr. McAuliffe ran as a mainline Democrat. He deployed Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Barack Obama and Stacey Abrams in a bid to rally his party’s partisan faithful.
If Mr. McAuliffe was seemingly singularly obsessed with his base, the Youngkin campaign homed in on an issue that Democrats typically dominate: education. That focus helped him make incursions into Democratic territory.
Democratic ideological factions face off in cities.
Several municipal races pitted the progressive and moderate wings of the Democratic Party. The contests offered mixed results.
In Buffalo, India Walton, who was seeking to become a rare democratic socialist elected to a mayoralty, was trailing the write-in campaign led by Mayor Byron Brown, whom she had defeated in the Democratic primary.
In Minneapolis, voters rejected an amendment to transform the city’s Police Department into a new Department of Public Safety. At the same time, the city’s moderate Democratic incumbent mayor, Jacob Frey, held a significant advantage after the first round of ranked-choice voting.
In Seattle, Bruce Harrell, a former City Council president, was leading his more progressive rival, Lorena González.
The left did score some wins. In Boston, Michelle Wu, who was running with the backing of progressives, won the mayor’s race. And in Cleveland, Justin Bibb, a 34-year-old with progressive backing, is set to become mayor as well.
The race for governor of New Jersey was too close to call early Wednesday, as Gov. Philip D. Murphy, a first-term Democrat, fought to hold on to his seat in the face of a fierce challenge from his Republican opponent, Jack Ciattarelli.
At about 12:30 a.m., both candidates took the stages at their election-night parties to tell supporters that the results of the contest would not be clear until all provisional and vote-by-mail ballots were counted.
“We’re all sorry that tonight could not yet be the celebration that we wanted it to be,” said Mr. Murphy, surrounded by his family in Asbury Park’s Convention Hall. “But as I said: When every vote is counted — and every vote will be counted — we hope to have a celebration again.”
Mr. Ciattarelli, 59, said much the same thing, but appeared far more relaxed after outperforming every public opinion poll conducted during the campaign in a state where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by nearly 1.1 million voters.
“We have sent a message to the entire country,” Mr. Ciattarelli told supporters gathered in Bridgewater. “But this is what I love about this state, if you study its history: Every single time it’s gone too far off track, the people of this state have pushed, pulled and prodded it right back to where it needs to be.”
At 4 a.m., the candidates remained in a statistical dead heat, with about 12 percent of votes still uncounted.
Regardless of who wins, the razor-thin margin has made clear just how divided voters are about the tough policies Mr. Murphy imposed to control the spread of the coronavirus, and his liberal agenda on taxation, climate change and racial equity.
Mr. Murphy, a wealthy former Goldman Sachs executive and ambassador to Germany, had campaigned on the unabashedly left-leaning agenda he pushed through during this first term.
But the defining issue of the campaign was the pandemic, which has killed about 28,000 residents, hobbled much of the region’s economy and disrupted the education of 1.3 million public school students.
Mr. Ciattarelli, a former assemblyman, made Mr. Murphy’s strict pandemic edicts a centerpiece of his campaign. The Republican opposed Covid-19 vaccine mandates and mandatory masking in schools, and he blamed Mr. Murphy’s early lockdown orders for hurting small businesses and keeping students out of school for too long.
Kevin Armstrong and Lauren Hard contributed reporting.
McLEAN, Va. — Republicans claimed the governorship of Virginia for the first time in more than a decade on Wednesday, electing the businessman Glenn Youngkin and presenting their party with a formula for how to exploit President Biden’s vulnerabilities and evade the shadow of Donald J. Trump in Democratic-leaning states.
Mr. Youngkin, 54, a wealthy former private equity executive making his first run for office, elevated education and taxes while projecting a suburban-dad demeanor to demonstrate he was different from Mr. Trump without saying so outright. He defeated former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat who, with Mr. Trump out of office, struggled to generate enthusiasm among liberals at a moment when conservatives are energized in opposition to Mr. Biden.
The Associated Press called the race for Mr. Youngkin shortly after 12:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, hours after the polls closed on Tuesday night.
Addressing supporters in Northern Virginia, Mr. Youngkin said the state had reached “a defining moment.”
“Together we will change the trajectory of this commonwealth,” Mr. Youngkin said after taking the stage and clapping along to the blues-rock anthem “Spirit in the Sky.”
The election took place at a moment when voters are deeply frustrated, weary from the still-lingering coronavirus pandemic and irritated at the costs and scarcity of goods. Large majorities in polls say that the country is on the wrong track, a foreboding indicator for the party in power.
No less bracing for Democrats was a second gubernatorial election unfolding in New Jersey: the incumbent governor, Philip D. Murphy, was narrowly trailing a relatively obscure Republican challenger, Jack Ciattarelli, deep into the night. A mainstream liberal with ties to the White House, Mr. Murphy was staking his hopes for a comeback on a strong performance in several solidly Democratic areas where votes were slow to report.
But the unexpected closeness of the race underscored the overall vulnerability of the Democratic Party. Much like Mr. Youngkin in Virginia, Mr. Ciattarelli appeared to benefit from robust turnout in rural and conservative-leaning areas of the state while making inroads in denser areas such as Bergen County, the populous suburb of New York City.
Unlike Mr. Youngkin, Mr. Ciattarelli, a former state legislator, had no vast personal fortune to spend on his candidacy and national Republicans looked at his campaign as an extreme long shot. Even if Mr. Murphy prevails, it is certain to be by a minute fraction of the 16-point margins by which both he and Mr. Biden carried the state in their last campaigns.
Mr. Youngkin’s surprise victory in Virginia, however, represents the starkest warning yet that Democrats are in danger. It was likely to prompt additional congressional retirements, intensify the intraparty tug of war over Mr. Biden’s agenda and fuel fears that a midterm electoral wave and Mr. Trump’s return as a candidate are all but inevitable.
“The MAGA movement is bigger and stronger than ever before,” Mr. Trump said in a statement Tuesday night.
In the first competitive statewide election of Mr. Biden’s presidency, Mr. McAuliffe worked assiduously to link Mr. Youngkin to the previous president. Inviting a parade of prominent national Democrats to campaign with him, the former governor sought to nationalize the race and effectively transform a gubernatorial contest into a referendum on Mr. Trump in a state he lost by 10 points last year.
But voters appeared far more eager to register their frustration with the Democrats in control of Washington and Richmond, the state capital, and fissures appeared in the coalition of moderate whites, people of color and young liberals that elected Mr. Biden in 2020. In cities, suburbs and exurbs that Mr. Biden had handily carried, Mr. McAuliffe’s margins shrank dramatically.
Mr. McAuliffe never fully articulated his own vision for a second term and received no favors from Mr. Biden or his party’s lawmakers. They spent much of the fall locked in contentious negotiations over Mr. Biden’s infrastructure and social welfare proposals, failing to reach a consensus that could have at least offered Mr. McAuliffe some good news to trumpet.
Democrats in Virginia have tended to win statewide elections on a message of can-do pragmatism. The stalemate in Washington cast the party in a different light.
Taking the stage in McLean before the race was called, Mr. McAuliffe thanked his family and supporters but did not concede. “This is a different state,” he said of Virginia following his governorship and that of his successor, Gov. Ralph S. Northam. “We are going to continue that fight.”
Significantly, Mr. Trump appeared unusually content to be kept at arm’s length by Mr. Youngkin, remaining mostly silent as the Republican candidate declined to invite him to the state. Mr. McAuliffe even acknowledged to reporters on Monday that “from a political perspective” it would have been better for him had the former president not been banished from Twitter so Mr. Trump could have had a platform from which to insert himself into the campaign.
For Republicans, particularly those uneasy with Mr. Trump and battered by the party’s string of losses on his watch, Mr. Youngkin’s triumph delivered a moment of exultation. Their win in Virginia demonstrated that they can reclaim some suburban voters without fully embracing or rejecting Mr. Trump.
Clad in a fleece vest and sporting a smile on the campaign trail, Mr. Youngkin happily claimed support from so-called Never Trumpers and Forever Trumpers, while otherwise voicing a center-right agenda in a state where Republicans have not won statewide since 2009.
In part because Mr. McAuliffe was so dedicated to his strategy of inserting Mr. Trump into the race, Mr. Youngkin evaded scrutiny about his own views on policy, which on issues like abortion and same-sex marriage were to the right of most Virginia voters.
The race illustrated that voters are chiefly focused on day-to-day quality of life issues related to the economy and the pandemic, and they blame Democrats for failing to fully address these matters.
The Virginia results also suggest that Mr. Trump’s exit has at least loosened the Democrats’ hold on the college-educated voters who powered their gains over the last five years.
It’s highly unlikely, however, that the former president will let other Republicans sidestep him in next year’s midterm elections the way Mr. Youngkin did. The party’s victory in Virginia may only lull Republicans into believing that Mr. Trump no longer poses a dilemma and can be indefinitely averted, the sort of thinking many party leaders have clung to for more than six years.
For now, though, it’s Democrats who will suffer the most as their moderate-versus-liberal intraparty tensions flare in Washington and beyond and officials blame one another for the defeat.
Susan Swecker, the chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Virginia, was blunt in her criticism of national Democrats for their losses on Tuesday. “I would encourage those people across the river that could pass legislation to give relief to working families that maybe they better wake up and think about what next year is going to look like now,” Ms. Swecker said.
However, even before polls closed Tuesday, one senior adviser to Mr. Biden was fuming over talking points issued by the Democratic Governors Association, which pointed to the president’s dimming popularity. It was not Mr. Biden, this adviser said, but Mr. McAuliffe who handed Republicans a political weapon as they sought to tap into parents’ anger over local school boards.
The moment came in a September debate, when Mr. McAuliffe said, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”
For Democrats, part of the reason the loss was so painful was because it was so familiar.
The last time a Republican won the Virginia governorship, in 2009, the party’s nominee rode a backlash against President Barack Obama to a 17-point victory, carrying densely populated suburbs like Fairfax County in Northern Virginia. That victory presaged a Republican wave the following year that turned over control of the House to the G.O.P. and stymied Mr. Obama for the balance of his time in office.
It was a scenario that Democrats fear could come to pass again in 2022 unless Mr. Biden regains voter confidence.
Eric Adams, a former New York City police captain whose attention-grabbing persona and keen focus on racial justice fueled a decades-long career in public life, was elected on Tuesday as the 110th mayor of New York, and the second Black mayor in the city’s history.
The Associated Press declared victory for Mr. Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, 10 minutes after the polls closed at 9 p.m.
At his campaign celebration, held at the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge, just around the corner from his office at Brooklyn Borough Hall, Mr. Adams walked to the stage buoyantly to “The Champ Is Here” by Jadakiss less than an hour later, and urged New Yorkers to come together.
“We are so divided right now and we’re missing the beauty of our diversity,” Mr. Adams said in remarks that echoed the “gorgeous mosaic” that David N. Dinkins, New York’s first Black mayor, famously discussed. “Today we take off the intramural jersey and we put on one jersey: Team New York.”
Mr. Adams, who will take office as mayor on Jan. 1, faces a staggering set of challenges as the nation’s largest city grapples with the enduring consequences of the pandemic, including a precarious and unequal economic recovery and continuing concerns about crime and the quality of city life.
His victory signaled the start of a more center-left Democratic leadership that he has promised will reflect the needs of the working- and middle-class voters of color who delivered him the party’s nomination and were vital to his general election coalition.
Mr. Adams, whose victory over his Republican opponent, Curtis Sliwa, appeared to be resounding, will begin the job with significant political leverage: He was embraced by both Mayor Bill de Blasio, who sought to chart a more left-wing course for New York, and by centrist leaders like Michael R. Bloomberg, Mr. de Blasio’s predecessor.
Mr. Adams was the favored candidate of labor unions and wealthy donors. And he and Gov. Kathy Hochul — who joined him onstage at his victory party — have made clear that they intend to have a more productive relationship than Mr. de Blasio had with Andrew M. Cuomo when he was governor.
Mr. Adams has made clear that large companies have a role to play in shepherding the city’s recovery, and there are signs that he may have a far warmer relationship with business leaders than Mr. de Blasio, who won on a populist platform.
But on the campaign trail, there was no issue Mr. Adams discussed more than public safety.
Mr. Adams, who speaks about growing up poor in Queens, has said he was once a victim of police brutality and spent his early years in public life as a transit police officer and later a captain who pushed for changes from within the system.
During the primary, amid a spike in gun violence and jarring attacks on the subway, Mr. Adams emerged as one of his party’s most unflinching advocates for the police maintaining a robust role in preserving public safety. He often clashed with those who sought to scale back law enforcement’s power in favor of promoting greater investments in mental health and other social services.
Mr. Adams, who has said he has no tolerance for abusive officers, supports the restoration of a reformed plainclothes anti-crime unit. He opposes the abuse of stop-and-frisk policing tactics but sees a role for the practice in some circumstances. And he has called for a more visible police presence on the subways.
“We’re not going to just talk about safety,” Mr. Adams declared. “We’re going to have safety in our city.”
BOSTON — Michelle Wu, who entered public service out of frustration with the obstacles that her immigrant family faced, will be the next mayor of Boston, pledging to make the city a proving ground for progressive policy.
Buoyed by support from the city’s young, left-leaning voters and by Black, Asian and Latino residents, Ms. Wu, 36, soundly defeated City Councilor Annissa Essaibi George.
Ms. Essaibi George, who ran as a pragmatic centrist in the style of former Mayor Martin J. Walsh, had the backing of the city’s traditional power centers, like its police, its trade unions and its working-class Irish American neighborhoods.
“From every corner of our city, Boston has spoken,” Ms. Wu said, to a jubilant crowd in the city’s South End. “We are ready to meet the moment. We are ready to be a Boston for everyone.”
Conceding the race, Ms. Essaibi George said, “I want to offer a great big congratulations to Michelle Wu.”
“She is the first woman, first person of color, and as an Asian American, the first elected to be mayor of Boston,” she said. “I know this is no small feat.”
Ms. Wu — who grew up outside Chicago and moved to the Boston area to attend Harvard — was an unusual candidate for this city, and her victory sets a number of precedents.
Ms. Wu is the first woman and the first person of color to be elected mayor in Boston, which has been led by an unbroken string of Irish American or Italian American men since the 1930s. Kim Janey, a Black woman, has served as acting mayor since March, when Mr. Walsh was confirmed as the U.S. labor secretary. Ms. Wu will also be the first mayor of Boston not born in the city since 1925.
Malaysia Fuller-Staten, 24, an organizer from Roxbury, was ebullient as returns came in, saying the scale of Ms. Wu’s victory would shatter the image of Boston as conservative and insular.
“Boston is so much an old boys’ club,” she said. “For her to win by that margin, it would be saying to everyone, Boston is not a center-right city. It would be saying, we are a city looking to change.”
Born shortly after her parents immigrated to the United States from Taiwan, Ms. Wu spent her childhood interpreting for them as they tried to negotiate bureaucracy in the United States. She was deeply shaken in her 20s, when her mother had a mental health crisis, forcing her to step away from her career to care for the family.
Emerging from that experience, she plunged into a career in public service.
She developed a close relationship with Elizabeth Warren, one of her professors at Harvard Law School, who became the state’s progressive standard-bearer and helped launch her in politics.
As a Boston city councilor, Ms. Wu often attended meetings with her babies, a sight that announced change for a body that, throughout its history, had been dominated by white men.
State Representative Aaron Michlewitz, a longtime friend and supporter, described Ms. Wu’s victory as the culmination of years of disciplined work on the nitty-gritty of governing.
“It’s not always flashy, it’s not always something that gets a headline,” he said. “She doesn’t come off as this huge presence when she walks into a room necessarily. But over time she chips away at the issues you care about. You start realizing how dedicated she is to the craft and to the work.”
Boston has been booming, as jobs in technology, medicine and education attract waves of young professionals. But that success has come at a cost, forcing working-class and middle-class families to leave the city in search of affordable housing.
Ms. Wu has promised to push back against gentrification, with policies tailored to help lower-income residents stay in the city, such as waiving fees for public transport, imposing a form of rent control, and reapportioning city contracts to firms owned by Black Bostonians.
It will not be easy for her to deliver. Rent control, for example, has been illegal in Massachusetts since 1994, so restoring it would require the passage of statewide legislation. The most recent effort to roll back the ban on rent control was rejected resoundingly by legislators last year, by a vote of 23 to 136.
Her plans to restructure the city’s planning agency have worried many in the real estate and building sectors, which thrived while Mr. Walsh was mayor. And Ms. Wu will have to take control of a sprawling government apparatus whose powerful constituencies can slow or block a new mayor’s agenda.
Wilnelia Rivera, a political consultant who supported Ms. Wu, said she would face pushback.
“The reality about power is that it never wants to give up any, and we’ll see what that looks like once we cross that bridge,” she said. “She is going to have to recreate that power coalition. It would be nice to have a mayor who isn’t necessarily in the back pocket of all the power players in the city.”
Ms. Wu comes in with high expectations for change, and will face pressure to move swiftly. One of the city’s most popular progressive figures, District Attorney Rachael Rollins of Suffolk County, warned that she ran the risk of disappointing many who have backed her.
“What I won’t do is allow our community to be sold a bill of goods and then when someone gets into the office, nothing happens,” she said.
Ms. Wu has responded repeatedly to such concerns throughout her campaign.
“The history and legacy of Boston as a city is one of putting forward bold vision to reshape what’s possible and then fighting for what our residents need,” she said, listing challenges she took on as a city councilor, like introducing a pilot program for fare-free public transport.
“Time and again, when people said it would be impossible,” she said, “we got it done.”
As they left polling places on Tuesday, several voters described the race as a turning point for Boston, which has elected a long line of men from the white, working-class, pro-union wing of the Democratic Party.
“Change in this city has taken a long time to come,” said Andrew Conant, 28, a filmmaker. “This is a very proud moment for my city.”
MINNEAPOLIS — Minneapolis residents rejected an amendment on Tuesday that called for replacing the city’s long-troubled Police Department with a new Department of Public Safety, The Associated Press projected.
The ballot item emerged from anger after a Minneapolis police officer murdered George Floyd last year, galvanizing residents who saw the policing system as irredeemably broken. But the amendment’s failure showed that even in a liberal city where skepticism of the police runs deep, many Americans are not prepared to get rid of the police.
Minneapolis leaders now face the challenge of filling staffing shortages in a Police Department that is about a third smaller than it was before Mr. Floyd’s killing, and at a time when the city is facing the most homicides since the mid-1990s. Even though voters were bitterly divided over the charter amendment, the city has been largely united in a view that meaningful reforms to policing are needed.
“We all agree that we can’t sustain as we are now with the way policing has been,” said Brian Herron, the pastor of a church on the city’s North Side and an opponent of the amendment. But he added: “We don’t have time to reimagine. We got bodies dropping in the streets. We got innocent folk being killed.”
Supporters of the measure had framed it as an opportunity to rethink law enforcement and perhaps become a national model for a different approach.
“For every new change, someone had to be the first,” said Sheila Nezhad, who supported the amendment, and who decided to run for mayor after working as a street medic following Mr. Floyd’s death. “This is our opportunity to lead.”
In the days after Mr. Floyd’s murder, Minneapolis became the center of a push to defund or abolish the police, and the amendment on Tuesday’s ballot grew out of that. But while many in Minneapolis have deep concerns about the current policing system, the city was deeply divided on whether the ballot language went too far.
Moderate Democrats, including Mayor Jacob Frey, called for improving the current department. An uptick in homicides led some residents to question the wisdom of shedding the Police Department for a new public safety agency. And a lack of clarity on what the amendment would actually do scared off some voters.
“Policing is the No. 1 issue, but I don’t see my opinion reflected,” said Leanne Fanner, 54, who works in insurance and said before Election Day that she intended to vote against the measure. “I do think we need systemic reform of the Police Department — systemic and accountable reform.”
The amendment called for discarding minimum police staffing levels for the city, and getting rid of the Minneapolis Police Department altogether. Under the amendment, the City Council would have more oversight over the agency that replaced the Police Department, which would be focused on public health and, according to the ballot language, “could include licensed peace officers (police officers), if necessary.”
Supporters of the measure, who largely steered away from describing the plan as one to “defund the police,” framed it as a way to help their city move past the pain of the past 18 months and create a new, more equitable system. And they have disagreed with some opponents who say this is not a wise moment to replace the Police Department, given rising gun violence in the streets.
“I find it fascinating that folks are saying, ‘No, this is the wrong time to do things that directly address the things that are bad right now,’” said JaNaé Bates, a minister who helped lead a campaign supporting the amendment and believes that having more social workers and community violence workers would do a better job reducing gun violence than would traditional policing.
Many Minneapolis residents say they remain shaken by the events that unfolded in the city, from the video of an officer kneeling on Mr. Floyd’s neck, to the protests and arson and looting that followed.
“We are going through some of the hardest and most difficult circumstances our city has ever faced,” Mr. Frey told high school students during a debate this fall.
The question of how to respond has divided Minnesota’s top Democrats. Representative Ilhan Omar, whose congressional district includes Minneapolis, and Keith Ellison, the state attorney general, supported replacing the Police Department. Their fellow Democrats in the Senate, Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, opposed it.
Mayor Frey, who opposed the amendment, had received more than 40 percent of the first-choice votes in Tuesday’s mayor’s race with nearly all ballots counted, which was far more than any challenger but short of the majority threshold needed to win outright under the city’s ranked-choice system.
Since Mr. Floyd’s murder, many large cities, Minneapolis included, have invested more money in mental health services and experimented with dispatching social workers instead of armed officers to some emergency calls. Some departments scaled back minor traffic stops and arrests. And several cities cut police budgets amid the national call to defund, though some have since restored funding in response to rising gun violence and shifting politics.
But no large city went as far as getting rid of its police force and replacing it with something new.
BUFFALO, N.Y. —Mayor Byron W. Brown of Buffalo, an incumbent four-term Democrat, declared victory on Tuesday night in his write-in campaign to defeat his own party’s official nominee, India Walton. But Ms. Walton refused to concede.
The results were far from final in a race that drew national attention for reflecting the ideological schism in the Democratic Party: With nearly 70 percent of the vote counted, about 60 percent of the votes so far were marked for “write-In,” and many of those could eventually translate into votes for Brown, though that process of counting will be laborious and could take weeks to finish.
Ms. Walton, a democratic socialist who had earned the endorsements of some of the nation’s best-known progressives, said on Tuesday night that “every vote needs to be counted” and railed against the Brown campaign, which did not reject support from Republicans, a small cohort in this heavily Democratic city.
“Right now it’s ‘Walton’ against ‘Write In,’ whoever that is,” she said. “Who Write-In is remains to be seen.”
Indeed, there is at least one other write-in candidate who has actively campaigned — Benjamin Carlisle, a former Democrat. Ballots marked “write-in” will have to be checked individually to see which candidate — Mr. Brown, Mr. Carlisle, or others — is indicated. And absentee ballots will not be tallied until mid-November.
Still, the results on Tuesday seemed to boost the hopes and mood of Mr. Brown, who lost to Ms. Walton in a Democratic primary in June, after running a lackluster campaign.
“They said it was impossible to win as a write-in, but you can never count a Buffalonian out,” said Mr. Brown said to a raucous crowd at a downtown event, adding he would find a way to thank all his voters “over the next four years.”
“This hasn’t been easy,” he said. “But it’s been worth it.”
The political oddity of a potent write-in campaign and a battle pitting moderates versus progressives inside the Democratic Party turned this city’s usually lackluster mayoral race into one of the most closely watched contests in the nation.
Mr. Brown, 63, was seeking a fifth term, trying to cobble together a varied coalition of conservative and moderate Democratic supporters, as well as managing the vicissitudes of a write-in campaign, including spending $100,000 to buy specially made rubber stamps to allow voters to ink his name on ballots.
On Tuesday, such a process didn’t seem to discourage Brown supporters like Fred Heinle, 66, who voted for the mayor and said, “Byron Brown has done a lot of tremendous things for the city.
“Has he been perfect? No,” said Mr. Heinle, who is retired. “But he’s done some wonderful very good things for the city to be proud of.”
In her remarks, Ms. Walton accused Mr. Brown of betraying the Democratic Party and benefiting from deep-pocketed donors who poured money through independent expenditure committees. And indeed, some local Republican officials — who are badly outnumbered in voter registration in Buffalo and did not even field a candidate for mayor — did voice support for Mr. Brown’s campaign.
“Buffalo is a Democratic city,” Ms. Walton said on Tuesday night. “And what we have seen is my opponent actively cooperating and colluding with Republicans and dark money to defeat a person who was going to be a champion for the little guy.”
A win for Mr. Brown — the city’s first Black mayor and a lifelong Democratic centrist — would be a stinging rebuke for the progressive wing of his party, which had celebrated Ms. Walton’s unlikely victory in June.
In many ways, Ms. Walton’s candidacy has underscored a deeper rift in the Democratic Party, which has seen moderates like President Biden and Eric Adams, who easily won his election for New York City mayor on Tuesday, repeatedly scuffle with more left-leaning candidates and elected officials.
Since winning in June, Ms. Walton had drawn the support of a bevy of prominent national progressives, including Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, as well as Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who represents parts of Queens and the Bronx but traveled to Buffalo in late October to campaign on Ms. Walton’s behalf.
She had also begun to draw the support of more Democratic establishment figures, including both of the state’s U.S. senators — Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand — who could face challengers from the left in future election cycles.
Still, Ms. Walton was not uniformly embraced by state party leadership, as Gov. Kathy Hochul — a Buffalo native — and Jay S. Jacobs, the chairman of the New York State Democratic Committee, declined to endorse her.
In the closing weeks of the campaign, Mr. Jacobs had come under particular fire after suggesting Ms. Walton’s win in the primary was akin to an infamous white supremacist, David Duke, winning his party’s nomination. (Mr. Jacobs, who heard calls for his resignation, later apologized.)
Ms. Walton, 39, was tying to become the first woman and first Black woman to lead New York’s second largest city, as well as the first socialist to lead a major American city in decades. A first-time candidate, she has an evocative life story as a single mother and labor organizer — a narrative that she leaned on in advertisements, some of which were paid for by groups like the Working Families Party, a labor-backed organization that often supports progressive candidates.
She had run an energetic primary campaign, surprising Mr. Brown, who largely refused to acknowledge her candidacy, having won past campaigns comfortably in a city in which Democrats far outnumber Republicans.
The mayor’s blasé attitude changed radically, however, after Ms. Walton’s win, as he announced his write-in campaign and attempted a legal push to get himself put on the ballot. That effort failed after a pair of judges ruled against Mr. Brown in September, leaving Ms. Walton the only candidate whose name was on the ballot.
As the campaign continued, political observers here repeatedly suggested that Mr. Brown could be a favorite, if only because of his 16 years in office and widespread name recognition.
But on Tuesday, some of Ms. Walton’s supporters said they both liked her policies and had tired of Mr. Brown’s long time in office.
“No one is owed a position in public service,” said Matthew L. Schwartz, 37, social worker in Buffalo. “I don’t understand why he feels he has the pulse of the community.”
Mr. Brown seemed confident in the days before the election, joking on Sunday about the potentially notable nature of his win as well as his rubber stamps.
“There’s a growing feeling,” he said, “that the stamps are going to become collectors’ items.”
Lauren D’Avolio and Dan Higgins contributed reporting from Buffalo.