Former federal prosecutor Alvin Bragg pulled ahead of seven rivals in the crowded race for Manhattan District Attorney late Tuesday night, and if he holds his lead over second-place Tali Farhadian Weinstein after the city’s Board of Elections tallies absentee ballots, he would become the first Black man to hold one of the highest-profile law enforcement posts in the nation.

Speaking to supporters in Harlem on Tuesday night, Bragg gave an emotional speech, holding back tears at points.

“To whom much is given, much is expected. We have been given a profound responsibility tonight,” he said. “The responsibility for the safety of Manhattan. The responsibility for the fair administration of justice in Manhattan.”

“There are still votes to be counted,” he told an exuberant crowd in Harlem Tuesday night. “But let me say, wow.”

A spike in gun violence and random subway attacks, coupled with an intense push for criminal-justice reform following the murder of George Floyd by police last summer, defined the tone of the race for Manhattan DA, with many of the eight candidates running on pledges to reform the office.

Bragg was not the most left-leaning candidate in the race though he veered further to the left than his next closest rival Farhadian Weinstein, another former federal prosecutor, with promises to decline to prosecute certain low-level offenses, including charges stemming from consensual sex work, to rarely seek cash bail except for certain violent felonies, and to support earliest possible release dates for incarcerated people seeking parole.

On the campaign trail, Bragg often recounted his own experiences with the criminal justice system growing up in Harlem; being stopped and frisked at gunpoint by NYPD officers, losing friends to gun violence and seeing the effects of mass incarceration first hand, with friends and family members who’d been harshly sentenced by the Manhattan District Attorney.

By election night’s end, Bragg, who has worked in both the state attorney general’s office and as an assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and was endorsed by the New York Times, was up by 7,265 votes or 34% of the vote, ahead of Farhadian Weinstein, also an accomplished prosecutor with both state and federal experience, who finished with 31%. Longtime District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. did not seek re-election for a fourth term, though the office has no term limits.

At a rooftop venue near Times Square, Farhadian Weinstein thanked her supporters and told everyone to hold on just a bit longer for official results.

“We have made an enduring promise to fight for safety and fairness,” she said. “I know we’re tired, and we wanted this to be the night that this election ends but we are also very patient. That’s what we are going to be.”

Farhadain Weinstein had focused on clamping down on gender-based crimes, gun violence, and hate crimes while also pledging to reform the office. During the course of the race, Farhadian Weinstein tacked more to the center, removing a section of her campaign website entitled “fairness from the start,” where she committed to “reduce the number of people detained before trial” and to “reduce significantly the use of incarceration and criminal conviction as a response to low-level, non-violent crime.” In its place, she posted a section on combating crimes that occur on the subways.

Farhadain Weinstein rattled off a list of last week’s crime statistics.

“Murders, hate crimes and crimes that include rape have all risen 33 percent. Shootings climbed 20%...and on Monday a 27-year-old female tourist was hit over the head with a bottle in an unprovided subway attack in Midtown,” she said. “What we heard from New Yorkers everywhere was that it’s not that we just don’t want ourselves to live with this, we didn’t want this for any of our neighbors.”

Unlike city races for mayor, comptroller, City Council seats and borough presidents, to which the ranked-choice voting system applies, the Manhattan District Attorney race is governed by state election laws. All eyes are on the thousands of absentee ballots to be counted. That process will begin on June 28th. By Tuesday evening, city election officials had tallied 27,682 absentee ballots from Democratic Manhattan voters and another 31,801 requested ballots still could make their way back to the Board’s offices by June 29th.

Preliminary data from the city’s Board of Elections show Bragg won the Upper West Side, Harlem, and the West Village while Farhadian Weinstein was ahead on the Upper and Lower East Sides, in Midtown, Hell’s Kitchen, Battery Park City, and parts of Washington Heights and Inwood.


Civil-rights attorney Tahanie Aboushi, who garnered the support of some of the progressive left, including the Working Families Party, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, finished with 11% of the vote.

“I’m so proud of what our team was able to accomplish,” she tweeted, bowing out of the race. Aboushi had run further to the left of Bragg with a much broader list of crimes she promised not to prosecute and a pledge to slash the District Attorney’s office by half.

“It was never about us,” she wrote. “It was about fighting for an unapologetically progressive vision of justice that truly centers the people and communities most impacted by mass incarceration and criminalization of poverty.”

Other candidates didn’t manage to surpass 10% of voters; criminal-defense attorney Elizabeth Crotty, public defender Eliza Orlins, former Manhattan prosecutors Lucy Lang and Diana Florence, and State Assemblymember Dan Quart.

Bragg and Farhadain Weinstein emerged as frontrunners in the weeks leading up to Primary Day, with Farhadian Weisntein holding a tremendous financial advantage. First, she’d first tapped into the ultra-wealthy inner circle of Wall Street friends and acquaintances of her husband Boaz Weinstein, a prominent hedge-fund manager, and second, she sunk $8.2 million dollars of her own money into her campaign in late May.

Beyond the $2.3 million Bragg raised, he had an additional $1 million dollars Super PAC funding from the progressive group Color of Change. The group has backed reform-minded district attorneys nationwide, including Larry Krasner in Philadelphia. Still, that left his campaign behind by more than $9 million dollars.

While the Manhattan District Attorney’s office under Vance has made strides in decreasing racial disparities over the last decade, data through 2020 show Black and Latino New Yorkers still have bail requested at higher rates, and are held pre-trial and indicted on the same offenses at higher rates, than their white and Asian counterparts.

Speaking to his supporters, Bragg pledged to change that—if he manages to win this race.

“Every step of the criminal justice system there are racial disparities,” Bragg said. “We are going to end that in Manhattan.”