In the New York City mayoral race, is one candidate’s scandal the opportunity “everybody’s second choice” has been waiting for? As the focus is on Anthony Weiner, Bill Thompson, the city’s former comptroller and the only African American in the race, could see his prospects boosted.
With less than 45 days to go before the city’s Democratic primary, polls have consistently placed Thompson third behind Weiner and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, the candidate most closely associated with the city’s current mayor, Michael Bloomberg.
But a Quinnipiac poll last week found that if, as is expected, no candidate wins more than 40 percent of the vote and the race moves to a run-off, Thompson would beat Quinn 51 to 42 percent. Although she is the front-runner, Quinn suffers from heavy disapproval for her role in helping to engineer the change in city law that allowed Bloomberg to seek a third term.
“If Thompson gets into a run-off, he wins,” said Quinnipiac’s Maurice Carroll. “Apparently he’s everybody’s second choice.”
In an interview with Reuters, Thompson called himself the “solid guy” and said in the end that would appeal to voters.
“I’m confident that leadership isn’t always just screaming, it is not always throwing things; it is about leading and doing better for communities,” he said.
His moderate stance on stop-and-frisk, credited by the Bloomberg administration with helping to lower the crime rate and slammed by critics as racial profiling, has earned Thompson the ire of some of the city’s most outspoken black leaders.
“Being black is not good enough,” said Jumaane Williams, a City Council member from Brooklyn who was a lead sponsor of two bills that could curb police power in the city and an outspoken critic of stop-and-frisk.
Still, Thompson said he was confident he would perform well among black voters. In an address Sunday his campaign billed as a major speech on race relations, he firmly attached himself to President Barack Obama’s comments in the aftermath of the George Zimmerman trial verdict.
Thompson said that the police department’s controversial stop-and-frisk policy led inexorably to Trayvon Martin’s death by a Florida neighborhood watch.
“We must ask ourselves, when fear of young black men ends in deadly violence against the innocent, has our government perpetuated that fear by targeting people of color with suspicion?” he asked. “Do our laws empower it? Do they create more possibility for violent confrontation, not less?”