De Blasio Scores Big Win in Primary, Potentially Avoiding Runoff
BY DUNCAN OSBORNE | Having achieved a big plurality in the Democratic primary, with a good shot at avoiding a runoff when all the paper ballots have been counted early next week, a triumphant Bill de Blasio vowed to win City Hall on November 5.
“What we achieved here tonight won’t just change the views inside City Hall,” de Blasio told supporters at a September 10 celebration in a Brooklyn club not far from his Park Slope home. “It will change the policies that have left so many New Yorkers outside of City Hall.”
De Blasio was contending with four major opponents in the primary and the conventional wisdom was that a runoff was a certainty among the Democrats. But unofficial results suggested that he had won the required 40 percent of the vote to avoid the expected October 1 second round.
With no runoff, de Blasio, currently the city’s public advocate, could immediately set his sights on Joe Lhota, the former deputy mayor in the Giuliani administration who easily won the Republican nomination for mayor.
In his remarks, de Blasio amplified on his campaign theme –– a “tale of two cities.” He said a small number of wealthy New Yorkers have benefited from city policies and a far larger group of New Yorkers have been left behind. New York has become a city in which “luxury condos have replaced community hospitals” and “proactive policing has become racial profiling,” he said.
The reference to luxury condos was hammered home in the campaign’s final weeks to emphasize the loss of St. Vincent’s Hospital and the redevelopment of the site by Rudin Management in City Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s district.
Exit polls show de Blasio bested Quinn in LGBT community, finished even with Thompson among African-American voters.
De Blasio said his campaign offered an “unapologetic progressive alternative” and that a de Blasio mayoralty would be one in which all New Yorkers would have a chance at a better life.
“We are bigger, we are stronger, we are better as a city when we make sure that everybody has a shot,” de Blasio said.
While recent polls suggested that de Blasio had a significant lead heading into the Democratic primary, those same polls had repeatedly shifted in the months leading up to September 10. An exit poll by Edison Research Services indicated he had cobbled together an impressive coalition to win the primary.
Forty-one percent of women voted for de Blasio as did 42 percent of African-American voters. The greatest surprise in the exit poll was that 47 percent of lesbian, gay, and bisexual voters backed de Blasio while only 34 percent supported Quinn, an out lesbian who has represented Chelsea and the West Village for 14 years.
“We saw people really respond to a progressive message,” said Dan Levitan, a de Blasio spokesperson, roughly two hours before the candidate spoke. “The exit poll is one thing… It is indicative of what we are seeing throughout the city.”
Levitan said the campaign had set a goal of identifying 100,000 de Blasio supporters and it had exceeded that goal. The campaign had 5,000 volunteers working on September 10 to get voters to the polls. The turnout in the primary was moderate, with between 600,000 and 700,000 New Yorkers voting, and de Blasio snagged the votes of roughly 260,000.
The campaign was also assisted by 1199 SEIU, a local of the Service Employees International Union. George Gresham, the president of 1199 SEIU, introduced de Blasio’s daughter, Chiara, at the celebration who then introduced her father.
Quinn’s result was stunning. Six months before the primary she was seen as the inevitable nominee, though even Quinn conceded that a runoff was unavoidable. She finished with just 15 percent of the vote. Quinn had worked very hard, seemingly successfully, for several years to boost her profile citywide.
Bill Thompson, the former city comptroller, had 26 percent of the vote, and he did not concede defeat to de Blasio, emphasizing that every vote needs to be counted. Other contenders, such as John Liu, the current comptroller, and Anthony Weiner, the former congressman, were in the single digits.
Lhota is presenting himself in the mold of Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg –– fiscally disciplined and liberal on social issues. That has been a potent image in recent elections. Together, Giuliani and Bloomberg have occupied City Hall for the past 20 years.
Giuliani and Bloomberg, in fact, used gimmicks to balance the city’s budget. Giuliani cut taxes and doubled New York City’s borrowing to make up for the lost revenue. Bloomberg has not negotiated new contracts with any city unions in four years, saving at least $7 billion. The next mayor will have to contend with those negotiations and the fiscal consequences.