The most important day of the New York City year occurred on Monday: the write-in ballots for governor were published.
We already knew that Andrew Cuomo won in November but we didn’t know how many people would decide to pencil in Amazon Cuomo (4).
We didn’t know who would win in the perennial contest between Donald and Daffy Duck (Donald took it). And what a pleasure to see Miles Davis tie with Fidel Castro this time around, in the race to head the executive branch in our state.
On a personal note, I was happy to see a buddy of mine get a lone vote, after apparently being written in by a buddy of his who has been doing this kind of thing since college (both buddies, city employees, were unavailable for interviews).
There are plenty of apparent jokes and entertainment to be found in this crucial city document, like the two separate anarchists who wrote in Michael Bloomberg with Cynthia Nixon as his lieutenant governor. Then there was a Kings County write-in for “Andrew Gonadz,” who I really hope is not a real person but an ideal abbreviation for incoming Democratic State Sen. Andrew Gounardes of Bay Ridge.
But the write-in list also shows at least some of the ways people are annoyed with the political options laid out in front of them.
There’s a level of fatalism that goes along with the write-in, the impulse to register a vote but not pick any of the candidates who have even a chance of winning — a message that there are certain issues and constituencies that aren’t being addressed or covered.
Hundreds of people cast wishful votes for Hillary Clinton, Zephyr Teachout, and Cynthia Nixon, not to mention socialist hero Eugene V. Debs.
Others made more personal protests or pleas. One person voted an Eric Garner/Kalief Browder ticket, for a man who died in police hands on Staten Island (the officers responsible are still on the job) and the teenager confined to solitary in Rikers who later killed himself.
More than 10 people wrote in some version of Alton H. Maddox, a controversial lawyer for Tawana Brawley, who in 1987 accused a group of white men of abducting and raping her, which a grand jury later found to be false.
Some went back in time to beloved New York governors like FDR and Al Smith. Others wrote in Donald Trump and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, two poles of the national left and right in the present.
The write-ins might be hints about local political issues, too. The people who chose transit chief Andy Byford and bike lane champion Janette Sadik-Khan might be saying something about how they want to get around the city, and how annoyed they are with the state of Cuomo’s MTA.
One person you didn’t see: Chirlane McCray, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s wife. One person wrote her in (misspelled) on a ticket with her husband but there wasn’t much interest in another family dynasty in New York, despite apparent interest on her end. She has bulked up her staff, including the addition of a shared legislative liaison for her in DC, which New Yorkers surely sorely need.
You can pore over the write-in list with a Talmudic eye to predict other future races, as it includes appearances by borough presidents and City Council members, from Speaker Corey Johnson to Eric Ulrich and Jumaane Williams and others with rising ambitions.
This year, they still look like bright and hopeful possibilities, better alternatives for the write-in crowd than the people actually running. Give it a year or two until they’re on the ballot and have disappointed voters in myriad ways. Then Daffy Duck might look more appealing.