Eric Adams et al. around each other: Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Brooklyn’s borough president, Eric Adams, appeared to take a fragile lead in New York’s Democratic mayoral primary on Tuesday, but it could be weeks before it becomes clear who is on top in the first citywide election to use ranked choice voting.

As ballot counting began, more Democrats ranked Adams as their first choice in the race than any other candidate.However, it was not clear whether that lead would hold with up to 207,500 absentee ballots yet to be counted. Voters’ full rankings of the candidates have yet to be taken into account and it could be July before a winner emerges.

Adams, a former police captain who co-founded a leadership group for Black officers, was ahead of former city sanitation commissioner, Kathryn Garcia, and former de Blasio administration lawyer, Maya Wiley.

Speaking to jubilant supporters, Adams acknowledged that he had not won yet, and that under the ranked choice system there were multiple rounds of ballot counting still to go.

“We know that there’s going to be twos and threes and fours,” he said. “But there’s something else we know. We know that New York City said: ‘Our first choice is Eric Adams.’”

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