NEW YORK — Political leaders past and present gathered Wednesday morning at the site of the former World Trade Center in New York to pay tribute to the lives lost in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks — putting on pause, for a brief moment, the contentious politics of the city’s municipal elections.
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, who landed a decisive win in Tuesday’s Democratic mayoral primary, was spotted at the ground zero ceremony giving an enthusiastic hug to City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, the onetime mayoral front-runner who placed a distant third place in the race behind former Comptroller Bill Thompson.
But the reception didn’t seem quite so friendly between de Blasio and outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg — whom de Blasio spent much of his mayoral campaign attacking. The Democratic hopeful stood right behind Bloomberg during much of the ceremony, and while the two eagerly chatted up the many other politicians who stood around them — including former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo — they weren’t spotted talking to each other.
A source close to Bloomberg later said the men had shaken hands and briefly spoken when they arrived at the ceremony.
The exchanges came as it remains unclear if de Blasio received enough votes to avoid a runoff election in the Democratic mayoral primary.
With 98 percent of precincts reporting, de Blasio had received 40.2 percent of Tuesday’s vote, compared with Thompson’s 26.1 percent. That was barely above the 40 percent threshold de Blasio would need to avoid a runoff race against Thompson.
But the results remained unofficial as the New York City Board of Elections said more than 15,000 paper ballots still remain to be counted. And a spokeswoman for the elections board told the New York Daily News that counting those ballots won’t begin until Monday — a little over two weeks before a potential Oct. 1 runoff election.
Given the 9/11 anniversary, both de Blasio and Thompson took a break from the campaign trail on Wednesday — both using the day to pay tribute to the victims of the terrorist attack.
But Thompson, who attended a ceremony honoring the 343 firefighters who were killed at the World Trade Center site, spoke briefly to reporters after the service — insisting he would not concede the race.
"I want to make sure every voice is heard," Thompson said, vowing that he would not drop out of the race until all the paper ballots are counted. "The vote is so close."
Liz Goodwin contributed to this report.