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New York City mayoral election, 1961

New York City mayoral election, 1961

November 7, 1961

Candidate Robert F. Wagner, Jr. Louis J. Lefkowitz Lawrence E. Gerosa
Party Democratic Republican Citizens
Alliance Liberal Nonpartisan Independent
Popular vote 1,237,423 835,691 321,604
Percentage 51.03% 34.46% 13.26%

Results by Borough

Mayor before election

Robert F. Wagner, Jr.

Elected Mayor

Robert F. Wagner, Jr.

The New York City mayoral election of 1961 occurred on Tuesday, November 7, 1961, with incumbent Democratic Mayor Robert F. Wagner, Jr. going on to win a decisive re-election victory for a third term in office.

Wagner defeated the Republican nominee, state Attorney General Louis J. Lefkowitz, and the Citizens Party nominee, New York City Comptroller Lawrence E. Gerosa.

Wagner received 51.03% of the vote to Lefkowitz's 34.46%, a Democratic victory margin of 16.57%.[1]

Gerosa finished in third, with 13.26%.

Gerosa, running with the short-lived left-wing Citizens Party, billed himself as the "real Democrat" in the race, and took many liberal votes, finishing relatively strongly for a third party candidate.

Wagner won decisive majorities in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx, and won a plurality in Queens. Lefkowitz eked out a narrow 1-point plurality win in Staten Island.

Wagner was also the nominee of the Liberal Party, and additionally ran on the Brotherhood ballot line. Lefkowitz also ran on the Nonpartisan and Civic Action ballot lines, while Gerosa also ran on the Independent ballot line.

After being supported by the Tammany Hall machine in his 1953 and 1957 elections, Wagner broke with Tammany Hall in 1961, defeating the Democratic Party power brokers' chosen candidate, Arthur Levitt, in the Democratic primary and then going on to win a third term in the general election. Wagner's victory thus ultimately signified the decline of the power of political machines in New York City.[2]

Wagner would be sworn in to his third and final term in January 1962.


1961 General Election party Manhattan The Bronx Brooklyn Queens Richmond [Staten Is.] Total %
Robert F. Wagner, Jr. Democratic - Liberal - Brotherhood 265,015 255,528 396,539 290,194 30,145 1,237,421 51.03%
55.6% 55.8% 52.7% 45.8% 41.0%
Louis Lefkowitz Republican - Nonpartisan - Civic Action 174,471 134,964 251,258 243,836 31,162 835,691 34.46%
36.6% 29.5% 33.4% 38.5% 42.3%
Lawrence E. Gerosa Citizens Party - Independent 36,893 67,213 105,232 99,987 12,279 321,604 13.26%
7.7% 14.7% 14.0% 15.8% 16.7%
subtotal 476,379 457,705 753,029 634,017 73,586 2,394,716 98.75%
others   30,269 1.25%
T O T A L   2,424,985  

Other vote was: Vito Battista - United Taxpayers Party - 19,960; Richard Garza - Socialist Workers - 7,037; Eric Haas - Socialist Labor - 3,272

1961 Democratic primary Manhattan The Bronx Brooklyn Queens Richmond [Staten Is.] Total %
Robert F. Wagner, Jr. 122,607 78,626 136,440 102,845 15,498 456,016 60.9%
65% 62% 57% 62% 60%
Arthur Levitt 66,917 47,885 103,296 64,157 10,471 292,726 39.1%
35% 38% 43% 38% 40%
subtotal (for Wagner and Levitt only) 189,524 126,511 239,736 167,002 25,969 748,742 [100%]


  1. ^ "New York City Mayoral Election 1961". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 26 April 2014. 
  2. ^ To be Mayor of New York: Ethnic Politics in the City, by Chris McNickle (Columbia University Press, 1993, ISBN 0-231-07636-3, page 175: free preview was available on April 26, 2014 at
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