Letitia James Wins Runoff Election for Public Advocate


With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Letitia James has won the Democratic runoff election for New York City’s public advocate, ending a particularly bitter and heated race. James took almost 60 percent of the vote, about 110,000 votes, while her opponent, Daniel Squadron, took 40 percent, 74,000 votes.

With no Republican or independent challengers, James has the job. There was widespread grumbling about the runoff’s $13 million price tag, which dwarfs the $2.3 million yearly budget for the public advocate’s office. Voter turnout for the runoff was predicted to be abysmal, and it was, with just over 185,000 of the city’s roughly 3 million registered Democrats turning out to vote.

The race was also noteworthy for the very public animus between the two Democrats, which continued almost up until the last moments the polls were open. At 7:43, with 75 minutes left, Squadron’s campaign director, Amy Spitalnick, accused a James supporter of attacking her after she asked him to stop ripping down Squadron signs.

Spitalnick added that the James supporter “cornered me into a fence” and “told me to call the cops on him.” James’ team didn’t publicly respond to the allegations.

Earlier this week, James accused Squadron of producing a robocall that claimed she “lied about making contributions to charity.” When questioned by NY1 host Erroll Louis, Squadron didn’t deny being behind the robocall, telling Louis he hadn’t heard it, and saying, finally, after much prodding, “People are going to assume what they want to assume.” Squadron then changed the subject, saying a robocall had gone out from the James camp accusing him of opposing Obamacare, which he actually supports.

On Tuesday morning, though, Squadron confirmed on Twitter that the anti-James phone call had come from his campaign:

On their way to vote Tuesday, both candidates denounced each other for making “personal attacks.”

As a final note: big ups to WNYC, who had the only live map tracking the runoff results, making it possible for the rest of us to cover this race. What kind of beer do public radio stations enjoy? We owe you one.