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Adams doubles down on inflammatory accusations in final hours of mayoral campaign

NEW YORK — Mayoral frontrunner Eric Adams doubled down on his inflammatory warning that an alliance between two of his rivals amounts to voter suppression on Monday, as candidates stumped through the city in a whirlwind final day of campaigning before voters head to the polls on Tuesday.

“African Americans are very clear on voter suppression. We know about a poll tax. We know about the fight that we’ve had historically, how you had to go through hurdles to vote,” Adams said during a morning appearance on CNN. “So [if my supporters] feel based on their perception that it suppresses the vote, then I respect their feelings; it’s not for me to interpret their feelings.”

Adams’ reference to poll taxes, which were used to block Black people from voting, came in response to a question about why his backers likened the recent partnership between Kathryn Garcia and Andrew Yang to voter suppression. The condemnations were organized in a press release issued by the Adams campaign over the weekend, contradicting any claim of daylight between the candidate and the statements.

Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, said in a subsequent appearance on Monday that he did not equate their alliance to a poll tax, but was simply explaining the history of the voter suppression tactic.

“I’ve been clear on their marriage. I’m done with it,” he said after a get-out-the-vote rally with supporters in the Jamaica section of Queens. The event, like much of Adams’ campaign, focused on the increase in gun violence across the five boroughs.

Yang, the one-time presidential candidate who led the polls when he jumped into the race in January, took issue with Adams’ remarks.

“It’s hard to characterize people getting out the vote as anything other than positive,” Yang said during an upbeat day on the trail. “We need people to make their voices heard. We need people to express their preferences for more than one candidate. And so I have a hard time seeing where he’s coming from.”

“I will say that the last thing New York City needs is a mayor who uses race baiting any time he is criticized,” he added.

Garcia also brushed away accusations of voter suppression.

“I am all about getting people out to vote — I want it to be the easiest possible thing,” she said at a press conference in Union Square. She later said the strategy helped to inform voters about the citywide debut of ranked-choice ballots, allowing them to pick up to five candidates in order of preference. The system kicks in if no one attains 50 percent of the vote in the first round.

Yang also criticized the apparent preference outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio has for Adams, which was on display again Monday when the mayor all but defended Adams’ condemnation of the Garcia-Yang alliance.

“People want to turn the page from a third term of Bill de Blasio,” Yang said.

The departing mayor has not made an endorsement in the race, but several people who have spoken to him about the election said he prefers Adams and is displeased with Garcia, his former sanitation commissioner, who admonished his handling of the city budget when she resigned in September.

During his own press conference Monday, de Blasio described the partnership as “simply an opportunistic move by candidates — two people who don’t seem to agree on a whole lot teaming up for their own political needs.”

Garcia shot back: “I would think that the current mayor, who knows that New Yorkers approved ranked-choice voting by 73 percent, would be for that as well.”

Wiley, a supporter of ranked-choice voting who has not joined forces with any other candidate, lambasted Adams’ comments.

During a campaign stop in Washington Heights, she called the remarks “cynical and insensitive.”

“The leadership we need right now is a leadership that says, trust in our voting system because it works,” she added.

Pressed on whether he would “assure voters” he is not claiming a stolen election, akin to former President Donald Trump, Adams replied, “Yes I do, I assure voters that no one is going to steal the election from me.”

In the final sprint toward the finish line, the 60-year-old Adams has continued his focus on the increase in shootings, and two polls released Monday showed him maintaining his lead.

An Ipsos survey of 702 Democratic likely voters conducted from June 10-17 found Adams leading the race with 28 percent of the vote, compared to 20 percent for Yang, 15 percent for Garcia and 13 percent for attorney Maya Wiley. When first- and second-place responses were combined, Adams led with 42 percent, followed by Yang at 32 percent, and Garcia and Wiley at 24 percent.

A Data For Progress poll released Monday night showed Adams leading with 28 percent, followed by Wiley at 21 percent, Garcia at 18 percent and Yang at 12 percent. That survey, conducted June 18 through 20, found Garcia seizing the most second-place votes.

The Board of Elections will release preliminary results from the first ranks of ballots cast in person on Tuesday night, but is not expected to put out further ranked results until June 29. Certified results will be released on July 12.

Joe Anuta, Janaki Chadha and Amanda Eisenberg contributed to this report.

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