How The Times Made a Manhattan D.A. Race Uncallable

In a recent interview in his Fifth Avenue law office, Cy Vance sat with an open can of seltzer, an open-collar shirt and a smile on his face.

“I’m pleased, as I’m sure everyone is, that we’re in the last lap and that we really have 40 days left,” Mr. Vance said.

He also said, “I think we’re very much on track in terms of where we wanted to be. So I feel very good.”

That was shortly before Mr. Vance won the endorsement of The New York Times, which, by general agreement among the camps of the three Democratic candidates to succeed three-decade-plus incumbent Robert Morgenthau, was expected to have a disproportionate role in informing voters about this down-ballot race.

The Aug. 14 endorsement touted Mr. Vance’s experience, plan to reduce the backlog in the office and even his “gravitas.”

The endorsement makes the race only more confusing for anyone brave enough to try to handicap the primary.

Now, Mr. Vance has The Times and Mr. Morgenthau. Leslie Crocker Snyder, who nearly defeated the current Manhattan district attorney four years ago, enjoys high name recognition and has support from law enforcement groups, and is the only woman in the race. The other candidate in the race, Richard Aborn, has claimed support from a long list of liberal lawmakers and the Working Families Party, with its proven get-out-the-vote operation.

All three have experience serving in Mr. Morgenthau’s office.

So what if it comes down to a matter of a few votes, as seems increasingly likely? How comfortable is Mr. Vance with an election in which the institutional factors cancel each other out? What if it’s actually decided, by a handful of committed, super-prime voters, based on the candidates’ personal style?

“It’s much less about being the funniest, it’s much less about being the best sound bite, as it is, over the course of time, delivering results,” Mr. Vance said. “I hope I’ve become a little more engaging in the process; I think I have. I think I probably have become a little less—a little less concerned about every word.”

How The Times Made a Manhattan D.A. Race Uncallable