NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Bill de Blasio held a commanding lead in Tuesday’s Democratic mayoral primary, but whether the city’s public advocate would earn the 40 percent of the vote needed to dodge a runoff might not be clear until Monday.
Meanwhile, Joe Lhota, a former deputy mayor under Rudy Giuliani and ex-Metropolitan Transportation Authority chief, won the Republican nomination.
With 97 percent of the precincts reporting, de Blasio had 40 percent of the vote. He was followed by former city Comptroller Bill Thompson’s 26 percent.
It could be next week before the results are official. The Board of Elections told CBS 2 that all paper ballots will be counted early Wednesday morning, but absentee and military ballots won’t be opened until Monday. About 30,000 ballots have yet to be counted, WCBS 880 reported.
In a speech to his supporters, de Blasio talked about the January day when he announced his candidacy.
“That day we said that New York had become a tale of two cities,” de Blasio said. “One where the very wealthy had not only rebounded from the Great Recession, but where life couldn’t get much better for them. And we acknowledged that there was another New York, a New York where nearly half our citizens are living at or near the poverty line, where luxury condos had replaced community hospitals, where proactive policing had somehow slipped quietly into racial profiling.”
Thompson did not concede, saying he would wait for every vote to be counted.
“We took Mike Bloomberg on (in 2009), and we almost beat him,” Thompson told his supporters. “Now, we’re going to finish what we started.”
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn earned 15 percent of the Democratic vote, city Comptroller John Liu had 7 percent, and former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner had 5 percent.
On the Republican side, Lhota was declared victorious after receiving 53 percent of the vote, followed by billionaire supermarket magnate John Catsimatidis, who had 41 percent.
“Ladies and gentlemen, tonight represents a mile marker on our road to victory in November,” Lhota told his supporters. “Our journey continues just at a faster pace. Now is the time for our party to come together and unite for the common good.”
A Democratic runoff would be held Oct. 1, and the general election is scheduled for Nov. 5.
Exit polling by Edison Media Research for The Associated Press and other news organizations showed the appeal of de Blasio to be broad-based: He was ahead in all five boroughs; was ahead of Quinn, the lone woman in the race, with female voters; and ahead of Thompson, the only African-American candidate, with black voters.
The winner of the mayor’s race in November will assume the helm of the nation’s largest city at a critical juncture, as it experiences shrinking crime rates yet widening income inequality, and as the nearly completed One World Trade Center building symbolizes a new era after the terrorist attacks of 2011.
Michael Bloomberg, the businessman Republican-turned-independent, is completing his third term. While the city’s registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 6 to 1, the GOP’s recent success in mayoral elections has been largely attributed to a crime epidemic, the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks or other extraordinary circumstances.
De Blasio, 52, has fashioned himself as the cleanest break from the Bloomberg years, proposing a tax on the wealthy to fund universal pre-kindergarten and changes to city police practices he says discriminate against minorities.
“I’m a lefty and I’ve had enough of the righties,” said Jessica Safran, a business consultant from the Boerum Hill section of Brooklyn who voted for de Blasio. “Even if de Blasio moves to the center if he gets elected, he’ll be closer to the positions I want than the others.”
De Blasio, who worked in Bill Clinton’s White House and Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Senate campaign before being elected to the city council and then public advocate, became the front-runner in the race’s final weeks. His surge was as sudden as it was unexpected, in part thanks to and ad that centered on his interracial family, his headline-grabbing arrest while protesting the possible closure of a Brooklyn hospital and the defection of Weiner’s former supporters in the wake of another sexting scandal.
Photos: Candidates Cast Their Ballots
“I liked what he said about the economic inequality in the city,” said Norma Vavolizza, 65, who lives in the Bronx and works in marketing. “I think it’s a serious issue that needs to be addressed.”
Quinn, who was bidding to become the city’s first female and first openly gay mayor, was the front-runner for much of the year, boasting the biggest campaign war chest and strong establishment backing. But she has been dogged by her support to change term limits to let Bloomberg run again in 2009, a decision unpopular with liberals who make up the bulk of Democratic primary voters.
The mayoral campaign was waged in hundreds of candidate forums and across millions of dollars of TV ads and was largely fought on the legacy of the Bloomberg era. Substantial policy differences were scarce among the Democrats, who agreed that the school system needed an overhaul, that the city’s poor had been forgotten, and that stop-and-frisk police tactics used to stop suspicious people needed changing amid claims that police unfairly targeted blacks and Latinos.
Thompson nearly defeated the billionaire mayor four years ago. This year, he ran a quiet, centrist campaign with hopes of receiving enough support from minorities to reach the runoff.
Weiner surprisingly entered the race in May after being in political exile since resigning from Congress in 2011 upon admitting to lewd online exchanges with women who were not his wife.
His candidacy sparked curiosity and popular interest, and he immediately shot to the top of the polls. But support collapsed almost as quickly when he revealed in July that he continued the online behavior even after his resignation from federal office.
Liu, was bogged down by a fundraising scandal. While Liu was never charged with wrongdoing, two of his associates were convicted of participating in an illegal money-raising scheme, and Liu was denied city matching funds for his campaign.
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