Bill de Blasio, the top vote-getter in New York’s Democratic mayoral primary, rallied hundreds of supporters amid reports of mounting pressure for second-place finisher William Thompson to back out of the race.
Unofficial results from the Sept. 10 election show de Blasio hovering above the 40 percent mark. If that holds, it would allow him to avoid an Oct. 1 runoff with Thompson, a former city comptroller, who received 26 percent. Allowing more time for Democrats to coalesce could help the eventual nominee’s chances against the Republican candidate, former Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Joseph Lhota.
“If you want to see what victory looks like, just look around me, ladies and gentleman,” De Blasio told a cheering and clapping crowd gathered today outside Brooklyn’s Borough Hall. Later, he hurried into a car past reporters without responding to questions about a potential runoff.
A decision on how to proceed will come after all votes are counted, said John Collins, a Thompson spokesman. The campaign has been told there are as many as 50,000 paper ballots outstanding, he said. The actual number of absentee and affidavit ballots to be counted hasn’t yet been determined, said Valerie Vazquez, a Board of Elections spokesman. The count won’t begin until next week, she said.
“Bill has said repeatedly we’re going to wait for all the votes to be counted,” Collins said.
The physical show of force by de Blasio’s campaign today coincided with an e-mailed list of new endorsements, including the Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union, which represents doormen, and the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. Both had supported Christine Quinn, the City Council speaker, in the seven-way primary. The e-mail called de Blasio’s showing a “decisive victory.”
Quinn, who finished third, was asked at a news conference at City Hall today whether Thompson should withdraw.
“I will enthusiastically support the Democratic nominee,” she said. “I think it’s clear to most folks that it’s Bill de Blasio, but that’s a decision for Bill Thompson to make.”
De Blasio, 52, campaigned on what he calls a “Tale of Two Cities,” promising to help the almost half of New Yorkers who he says have been left behind as luxury condos and boutiques rose during 20 years of Republican and independent mayoral rule. He now serves as the city’s public advocate, a watchdog post.
Thompson, 60, was the only black candidate in the race. Black voters gave equal support to Thompson and de Blasio, who is white and married to a black woman, according to exit polls.
Thompson will meet with U.S. Representative Charles Rangel, a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus, today to discuss the candidate’s options, Collins said. The Reverend Al Sharpton, a prominent black powerbroker and fixture of New York City politics, failed to endorse Thompson in the months leading up to the primary. He will have de Blasio on his MSNBC talk show tonight.
Merryl Tisch, chancellor of the state Board of Regents and a Thompson backer, said in an interview that the decision to withdraw is Thompson’s. She called the candidate a wise and thoughtful man.
“At some point you have to decide whether there’s a path to victory,” Tisch said. “You have to look at what the election results say and make a decision, and in this election de Blasio won a broad victory among all demographic groups of the city. I see that as very persuasive.”
In 2005, when former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer neared 40 percent of the vote in a mayoral primary, second-place finisher Anthony Weiner conceded the race, saying he didn’t want to divide the party.
In an interview today, Ferrer called Weiner’s decision “undeniably gracious.” Ferrer, who ran against Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2005 and supported Thompson in the primary this year, said he talked with Thompson after the election and wanted to keep that discussion private. He would support de Blasio “unquestionably and happily,” Ferrer said.
Bloomberg, whose 12-year tenure as mayor concludes at the end of December, is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.
At the Brooklyn rally today, City Council member Stephen Levin, who represents parts of Brooklyn, including Brooklyn Heights and Greenpoint, said he’s backing De Blasio after Quinn’s loss because “the people have really spoken.”
“If it’s not 40 percent, it’s damn close,” he said.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Merelman at email@example.com