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Brad Lander Beats Corey Johnson in City Comptroller Race

Councilmember Brad Lander attends a school reopening rally at City Hall during the COVID pandemic, Aug. 20, 2020.
Brooklyn Councilmember Brad Lander
Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

City Councilman Brad Lander was poised to become city’s next top fiscal watchdog after taking a commanding 24,683-vote lead over his main rival, Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who conceded Tuesday night.

The latest numbers, released by the Board of Elections, marked the first ranked choice voting tabulation to include well over 100,000 absentee ballots sent in by registered Democrats. The new figures showed Lander (D-Brooklyn) with 51.9% of lead compared to 48.1% for Johnson (D-Manhattan) in their competition to become the city’s top fiscal watchdog.

“Thank you New York City!,” Lander said in a statement. “I promise to work hard every single day to build a city that is more just, more equal, and more prepared for the future.”

Under the ranked choice system, votes are redistributed round-by-round from the candidate with the fewest votes to those still remaining. By the final round, Johnson saw his chances for a comeback fade.

“Today, after seeing the numbers released by the Board of Elections, it’s clear that the right thing to do is to suspend my campaign for comptroller,” Johnson said in a statement. “This was a hard-fought campaign and I congratulate Brad Lander on his victory.”

Council Speaker Corey Johnson speaks at City Hall about a budget deal reached with Mayor Bill de Blasio, June 30, 2021.
Council Speaker Corey Johnson
Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

Lander is all but a shoo-in to replace term-limited Comptroller Scott Stringer, who unsuccessfully ran for the Democratic nomination for mayor.

Lander will face Daby Carreras, a wealth manager, running on the Republican line, which did not have a primary. The Democratic candidate is widely expected to romp in the November election.

The city comptroller oversees government worker pension funds, signs off on major city contracts and audits city agencies.

Notched AOC Backing

Lander, who holds the Brooklyn Council seat formerly occupied by Bill de Blasio that includes Park Slope, Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill, had led the race since the initial tally of first-place, in-person votes.

During the campaign, he notched the endorsements of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D- Queens, The Bronx) and The New York Times editorial board.

Lander retweeted a congratulatory message from the Working Families Party, another major supporter of his progressive campaign.

“We ran a campaign rooted in the idea that we can have bold, progressive local government that delivers for its people,” Lander said. “This was the most grassroots campaign for comptroller in New York City history — and I couldn’t be more grateful to everyone who was part of it.”

Johnson, the Council speaker since January 2018, joined the race in March after he declined to run for mayor, citing a mental health struggle.

The Democratic scramble to replace Stringer drew 10 candidates, including State Senators Brian Benjamin (D-Manhattan) and Kevin Parker (D-Brooklyn), Assemblymember David Weprin (D-Queens) and former CNBC contributor Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, who made it to the penultimate round.

The figures released Tuesday night do not include some 3,699 ballots that need “curing,” a process in which voters are allowed to fix minor errors, such as forgetting to sign the envelope. The final tally isn’t expected to become official until sometime next week at the earliest.

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