In this least active of all political seasons, the year after a presidential election, political junkies are ordinarily presented with thin gruel – zero national races, a couple of gubernatorial contests, and the battle for mayor of the nation’s largest city. But this year, two of those races may well stir the hearts of forlorn conservatives and stand as harbingers of a rightward shift across the land.
The results of Tuesday’s Democratic Party primary in New York City – still incomplete – likely put at least faint smiles back on the faces of the millions alarmed by the rising woke culture. And it just as likely sent shock waves through the ranks of social justice warriors everywhere. In a field of candidates replete with the expected left-wing posturing in a city where 90% of the voters are Democrats, the candidate who has built a large – and likely insurmountable – lead is the only one rejecting open hostility to law enforcement, focusing not on defunding or weakening the police, but the opposite – public safety.
Eric Adams, former police captain and one of five blacks in the field, is running almost ten points ahead of runner-up Maya Wiley, a former counsel to Mayor Bill de Blasio, in what is called ranked-choice voting: a system in which each voter can select up to five candidates in order of preference. Though the complicated task of tallying the final votes will take time, Adams appears headed for Gracie Mansion, the famed home of New York’s mayors.
Almost every poll conducted in recent months reveals that reducing crime is the most important issue among not just New Yorkers in general, but also among the city’s Democrats. This, after the Democratic Party stood silent in the wake of urban violence metastasizing across the nation one summer ago. And they might have thought their voters agreed, given that Joe Biden is now president and the Democrats control Congress.
But now those same voters are increasingly alarmed as crime rates soar. And further evidence of such concern can be found in the one-sided victory of Republican mayoral nominee Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels, an organization originally established to combat widespread violence and crime on the New York City Subway system. Sliwa is as different a candidate for mayor as Donald Trump was for president – and a far cry from traditional GOP politicians who have served as mayor: most recently, Michael Bloomberg and Rudy Giuliani. So, incredibly, New Yorkers overcome with the crime wave following the killing of George Floyd have likely chosen not one, but two law and order candidates for November’s general election.
Meanwhile, Virginia, whose politics swung leftward more than any state in the nation over the last decade – from medium red to dark blue – will provide another test case for Woke America in its gubernatorial race. Businessman Glenn Youngkin is going down well with Virginia Republicans and presenting a serious challenge to Democrat Terry McAuliffe, the close Clinton ally who already served as governor and was prohibited by state law from running for a second consecutive term. But after leaving office in 2018, he is now able to run for another four years, and he easily dispensed with a field of candidates to his left in the party’s primary.
The warning signs for the left are starting to appear, including a pair of headlines from a prominent Washington newspaper: “Virginia Democrats show a surprising weakness as the general election campaign kicks off” and, in referring to GOP inclusion of a black female evangelical former Marine and a Hispanic member of Virginia’s House of Delegates on their ticket, “The Virginia GOP’s diverse ticket may present a problem for Democrats.” McAuliffe is running ahead, but only within the margin of error, as the state that rejected Trump twice – and Republicans repeatedly over the last decade – now stands ready for its next frontier.
So as the eyes of the political class turn to the Empire State and Old Dominion, hope is alive for beleaguered conservatives brought low in 2020. After all, if New York can vote to return law and order, as the song goes, it can happen anywhere.
Read more from Tim Donner.