Race to City Hall 2013

Quinn Declares Backing for One-Time Foe de Blasio

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, once the most bitter of foes, stood side by side in front of City Hall on Tuesday as she backed him for mayor, sealing the endorsement for the man she once battled for her current position.

The scene was unimaginable for much of the year, which de Blasio spent relentlessly attacking Quinn, the former Democratic front-runner, for her close ties to independent Mayor Michael Bloomberg and for the key role she played in allowing Bloomberg to seek a third consecutive term.

But in a political rite repeated every election, the searing barbs and accusations were set aside now that the primary has been settled and the party unifies around its nominee, de Blasio, who did his part by downplaying the very issue by which he had
defined Quinn.

“We had a difference on term limits, and that’s fine,” de Blasio said. “And that issue, by the way, is made moot by the people’s decision in 2010, which is now law in New York City. Like the speaker, I look forward to moving forward to addressing the real issues.”

De Blasio became the Democratic nominee Monday when the primary’s runner-up, ex-comptroller Bill Thompson, bowed out instead of waiting to see if a final vote tally would reveal de Blasio’s support fell below the 40 percent mark needed to avoid an automatic runoff.

Quinn, who was bidding to become the city’s first female mayor, offered a full-throated endorsement of de Blasio, saying she was “proud” to support him and urged her supporters, including several unions, to do the same. She reneged on her frequent campaign attack line that de Blasio wasn’t to be trusted.

“I trust Bill de Blasio, and I believe he will be a terrific mayor for the City of New York,” she said.

During the press conference, drums could be heard from Occupy Wall Street protesters, who were marching nearby to mark the second anniversary of the social protest movement. De Blasio was a vocal supporter of the 2011 protests but had no plans to meet with the demonstrators.

Lhota Takes on De Blasio on Democratic Turf

Republican nominee Joe Lhota made his first foray into the general election Tuesday by attempting to make inroads on traditionally Democratic turf. He met in the morning with the leaders of the city’s largest municipal employees union, District Council 37, which endorsed de Blasio shortly afterward, and was set to meet in the evening with Al Sharpton.

At the same time, Lhota continued slamming for a second day de Blasio’s plan to raise taxes.

Lhota, a deputy mayor in Rudy Giuliani’s administration, said he supports de Blasio’s idea for free preschool but says he can find “efficiencies” in the budget to pay for its cost without raising taxes.

“We don’t need a mayor whose policies push jobs to New Jersey or Connecticut,” he said. “New York isn’t a tale of two cities, it’s the melting pot of the world and Bill de Blasio should be ashamed for trying to polarize it.”

Lhota faces long odds at beating his Democratic opponent, according to the WSJ-NBC-Marist poll released Tuesday. The first poll taken since the primaries shows de Blasio led Lhota by a whopping 65 percent to 22 percent among likely voters.

After de Blasio clinched the nomination, political pundits had expected him to back off his progressive rhetoric in order to appeal to a broader constituency. But in both his press conferences the past days he spoke about New York as a “tale of two cities,” a term some consider class warfare.

“The problem with a ‘Tale of Two Cities’ is it makes you vulnerable to charges of economic warfare and polarization,” said George Arzt, a Democratic consultant not involved in the race. “De Blasio has to talk about a united city where no one gets left behind.”

“De Blasio’s first task has to be getting the three-quarters of Democrats who didn’t vote in the primary to rally around him,” said William Cunningham, who has served as a top political adviser to Bloomberg and former Gov. Hugh Carey. “De Blasio has to be careful that when he talks about tax increases he doesn’t scare these not-so-liberal Democrats away.”

Lhota said that de Blasio’s talk was “divisive,” adding, “I won’t stand for it, and I won’t let him get away with it.”

Thompson Conceded, but Runoff May Go On, City Says

Although the chaotic Democratic primary ended with all major candidates conceding to frontrunner Bill de Blasio, the city’s embattled board of election has continued counting ballots, with an eye on scheduling a runoff.

“Mr. Thompson’s concession, and we’ll put quotes around that, today has no legal binding effect,” Board executive director Michael Ryan told NY1 on Monday.

No matter what, there will be a runoff for public advocate on Oct. 1 between the top two Democratic vote-getters, Letitia James and Daniel Squadron. This allows the Board of Elections to avoid the nightmare scenario, in which de Blasio falls below 40 percent, and it’s forced to hold an election at an estimated $13 million for a race that’s uncontested.

Ryan responded to Bill Thompson’s scathing attack on the board during his concession speech Monday, saying that rules are rules. “This is the process. Everybody knows what the rules of the games are going in,” Ryan  said. “The process that we’re following is set by statute. These aren’t rules that we just decided to make up this week.”

Thompson, who came in second with 26 percent of the vote, said that voters should be “outraged” at the way the board has conducted the election.

For now, vote totals show de Blasio just over the 40 percent needed to avoid a runoff. He would have to lose 2/3 of the uncounted ballots to fall below that threshold.

Public Advocate Candidates Tout Strengths Ahead of Runoff

With the race to replace the public advocate getting its first media attention ahead of the Oct. 1 runoff, Councilwoman Tish James and state Sen. Daniel Squadron are showing off their strengths and their opponent’s weakness in the race widely seen as a tossup.

James has a broad labor coalition, and would be the only minority to win a citywide nomination. Squadron has enjoyed a fund-raising advantage and solid debate performances thus far.

Just about 100,000 voters are expected to show up to vote for James, who received 36 percent in last week’s primary, or Squadron, who got 33 percent.

James’s labor backers are preparing a massive get-out-the-vote operation, while Squadron is boasting support by a wide array of elected officials, The New York Times, his former boss Sen. Chuck Schumer and a much larger campaign chest.

Former rival Cathy Guerriero, who got 13 percent of the vote, announced on Tuesday her endorsement of Squadron.

“Daniel represents the best of us,” said Guerriero, a Manhattan college professor. “He is a faithful servant of the public good and a thoughtful steward of the dissenting voice. His intellectual prowess is matched only by his integrity.”

With Pataki, Skelos Backing, Lhota Wraps up GOP Support

Former Gov. George Pataki and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos rallied behind Joe Lhota Tuesday, wrapping up support from top party leaders who have backed primary opponents or were neutral.

“Throughout his career in public service Joe Lhota has been the kind of leader who not only brings people together, but he keeps them together to get the job done,” said Pataki, a three-term governor.