The final deadline to submit a minimum number of petitions to ensure a place on New York City’s ballot passed Thursday night, with candidates touting their collected signatures as a sign of strength for their campaign.
Among the mayoral candidates, former city comptroller Bill Thompson submitted more than 75,000 signatures, approximately 20 times the 3,750 required. His successor in the comptroller’s office, John Liu, delivered 65,000, with Public Advocate Bill de Blasio claiming 60,000 and Council Speaker Christine Quinn, a frontrunner, bringing in about 47,000 petitions.
Former Rep. Anthony Weiner, which some polls have leading the Democratic pack, said he delivered 50,000 signatures.
On the Republican side, billionaire John Catsimatidis said his campaign submitted more than 25,000 signatures, while former Metropolitan Transportation Authority chairman Joseph Lhota said his campaign had filed more than 17,000 signatures.
But most of the media attention was given to comptroller candidate Eliot Spitzer, the former New York governor who began his comeback bid on Monday, only four days earlier.
Spitzer came nowhere close to opponent Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer’s 100,000 petitions, but he did haul in an impressive 27,000 signatures, historic by city standards. That means that a signature was collected every 6.4 seconds.
“It is an important statement to those who said it was not possible in the course of three and a half days to gather enough signatures to get a candidate on the ballot for citywide office,” Spitzer, who reportedly paid signature gatherers $800 a day, said as he came in toting four boxes at about 10:30 Thursday night.
Stringer, meanwhile, noted that he relied on volunteers.
“One hundred thousand people signed my petition, and we didn’t have to pay anybody,” he told NY1 on Thursday evening.
Candidates typically gather several times the number of signatures needed since they are frequently challenged by rivals. But Stringer said Friday he wouldn’t challenge Spitzer’s numbers and that he is asking outside groups to do likewise.
“I’m not someone who challenges petitions,” Stringer said as he greeted voters Friday in downtown Brooklyn. “Let’s get into the fight now.”
Preliminary objections to the petitions may be lodged until midnight on Monday. Specific line-by-line complaints are due a week later. Staff members at the Board of Elections will review the objections, and then it will hold hearings, which are scheduled to begin on July 30.
Petition signers must be registered Democrats who live in the city and who have not signed another comptroller hopeful’s petition. Signers must supply their names and addresses and date the forms, and signature-gatherers also have to fill out certain information. Spitzer himself signed on as a witness to many of the petitions, rare among candidates.
Republican candidate John Burnett, an African American Wall Street executive, submitted 8,000 signatures.
While Stringer has been seen as the consensus candidate since he announced his candidacy last year, Spitzer’s surprise announcement last week changed that. He quickly jumped to a lead of 42 percent to 33 percent among registered Democrats.