Democrats seek to avoid runoff in NYC mayoral election

Holly Bailey
Yahoo NewsSeptember 12, 2013
De Blasio Thursday Brooklyn rally
View photos
Democratic mayoral front-runner Bill de Blasio heads to a "rally for progressive change" where he received endorsements from more than 25 progressive leaders and organizations on September 12, 2013 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

NEW YORK — Leading Democrats and unions began to coalesce around Public Advocate Bill de Blasio’s campaign for mayor as party officials stepped up their pressure on former Comptroller Bill Thompson to bow out of a potential runoff election.

The push came as de Blasio held a raucous rally with several hundred supporters in downtown Brooklyn, where he touted the endorsements of several prominent unions and elected officials who had previously backed City Council Speaker Christine Quinn in the Democratic primary. That list included Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and the Hotel Trades Council, one of the most powerful unions in the city.

At the same time, Quinn, the onetime mayoral front-runner who finished a distant third in Tuesday’s vote, was holding her own event at City Hall, where she stopped short of formally endorsing de Blasio but indicated she would “enthusiastically support the Democratic nominee.”

“It’s clear to most folks that is going to be Bill de Blasio,” Quinn said.

The developments come just two days after de Blasio won the majority of votes in Tuesday’s Democratic primary. With 99 percent of ballots tallied, de Blasio finished with 40.3 percent of the vote — barely above the 40 percent threshold he’d need to avoid a primary runoff.

Thompson was the second-place finisher with 26.2 percent. The former comptroller has insisted he won’t quit the race, as more than 15,000 paper ballots remain to be counted in the race.

“I want to make sure that every voice is heard, that every vote is counted,” Thompson said on Wednesday.

The candidate remained out of sight on Thursday, as his campaign seemed torn about how to move forward in the race. And his bid for a runoff seemed to grow more complicated by the hour.

On Thursday, the city’s Campaign Finance Board declined to release matching funds for a potential Democratic primary runoff, saying in a statement to the candidates that a runoff election “does not appear to be reasonably anticipated.” But the board left the door open to reconsidering that decision.

At the same time, The New York Times reported several prominent Democrats — including the Rev. Al Sharpton, who declined to endorse a candidate in the primary — had reached out to Thompson urging him to drop his campaign.

Merryl Tisch, who had chaired Thompson’s campaign, also told the Times that Thompson should quit in the name of party unity.

“I don’t think there’s much appetite within the Democratic Party to have a fight here,” she said.

The Thompson campaign did not respond to several requests for comment.

Another prominent Thompson backer, state Assemblyman Karim Camara threw his support behind de Blasio, joining him at Thursday’s rally where he said that “every corner of the city” was uniting behind the public advocate’s bid for mayor.

For his part, de Blasio has yet to speak out about Thompson. His campaign did not respond to questions about whether he or anyone else in his campaign has reached out to Thompson. And de Blasio did not respond when asked after his rally on Thursday if he believed Thompson should concede the race — simply rushing past a reporter to jump into a waiting SUV.

But as he addressed supporters, de Blasio sounded more like a general election candidate than someone on the brink of a runoff race. He laid out the basic principles of why he is running — among other things, restating his case for doing something about “income inequality” in New York.

“This election will be about whose side you are on. I’m proud to be on the side of working people,” de Blasio declared, adding that he would represent those “left behind by the (outgoing Mayor Michael) Bloomberg era.”

At one point, de Blasio paused and pointed to the several hundred cheering union workers surrounding him, who waved signs that touted "unity." He called it a “winning coalition.”

“If you want to see what victory looks like, just look around me,” he said.