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Bill De Blasio Not Expecting Easy Win In Democratic Mayoral Primary

Plans To Continue Fierce Campaigning Until The Very Last Minute
Mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio campaigns at the West Indian Day Parade on September 2, 2013. Over a million people are expected to attend the 46th annual parade.  (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

Mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio campaigns at the West Indian Day Parade on September 2, 2013. Over a million people are expected to attend the 46th annual parade. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Though he is far ahead of his fellow Democrats in the polls, Bill de Blasio is not taking his lead lightly.

He plans to campaign flat out right through Election Day on Tuesday, WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reported Friday.

“The polls aren’t the issue to me,” the front-runner said. “I know only one way to campaign, which is to work really hard, at the grassroots.”

Calling his volunteer operation “extraordinary,” de Blasio said he will, along with his team, “fight until the very last hour, 9 p.m. Tuesday.”

The candidate said he will have phone banks running nonstop,

Despite his poll numbers hovering above 40 percent, de Blasio said he still expects to be locked in a runoff after Tuesday’s primary — though he wouldn’t say who he’d prefer to run against. That, he said, is for the people to decide.

The New York Post reported Friday that Mayor Michael Bloomberg plans to endorse Republican Joe Lhota if de Blasio wins the Democratic nomination. Blasio said that did not bother him.

“My campaign has been about making changes,” he told WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb. “It’s been about getting away from the status quo we’re living right now. And obviously I think where Michael Bloomberg has left us is not working for a huge percentage of New Yorkers.”

Lhota, meanwhile, told Lamb that he has not spoken with Bloomberg since January or February, but he plans to discuss a possible endorsement the night of the primary or the morning after.

“I think Mayor Bloomberg has been extraordinary in the area of public safety and many, many other areas,” Lhota said. “Humans don’t all agree with each other over everything, but I’ve agreed with the mayor about 85 to 90 percent of the time.”

The candidates have blanketed television programs with commercials, given interviews to nearly anyone holding a microphone and relied on old-fashioned retail politicking as they embarked on the frantic stretch run of the primary campaign.

De Blasio started Friday morning at a Manhattan subway stop, shaking hands with rush-hour commuters. As supporters held signs aloft, bleary-eyed straphangers eagerly snapped photos of the city’s public advocate.

The night before, de Blasio was at another subway stop, in Harlem. At precisely the same moment, rival Bill Thompson was campaigning just one block away, underscoring their competition for the city’s African-American vote.

Last month, Thompson combated critics’ charges that he was running a low-energy bid by campaigning for 24 hours straight. That stunt received plenty of media attention, so Thompson will do it again: His team announced that he will be be campaigning for 24 consecutive hours Monday into Tuesday’s primary day.

Every last hand he can shake could count, as polls have Thompson and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn locked in a near tie for second place. If no candidate receives 40 percent of the vote Tuesday, the primary’s top two finishers advance to an automatic runoff three weeks later.

Quinn, who is bidding to be the city’s first female and first openly gay mayor, has been trying to shore up support from her base. She was scheduled to hit eight events in her home borough of Manhattan on Friday, capped off by a rally at the landmark Stonewall Inn, the site of 1969 gay rights riots.

Former Congressman Anthony Weiner, who is polling a distant fourth, was set to end a two-day Rosh Hashanah campaign break by hosting the first of several telephone town halls with voters. And city Comptroller John Liu and his wife were planning to fan out and make more than a dozen appearances across the city.

Lhota, the GOP front-runner and an ex-deputy mayor under Rudolph Giuliani, said his former boss would join him on the campaign trail this weekend. Giuliani had been out of the country for two weeks on business, depriving Lhota of support from his top surrogate.

And John Catsimatidis, a billionaire businessman, continued to saturate the airwaves with ads harping on Lhota dubbing Port Authority police officers “mall cops.” Catsimatidis underscored that point by appearing at the Port Authority Police annual softball game on Staten Island on Friday morning.

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