The race to become New York City’s next mayor narrowed Monday as the runner-up in last week’s Democratic primary ended his campaign and endorsed Bill de Blasio, the liberal public advocate who has cast himself as the anti-Michael Bloomberg. But Bill Thompson, who captured just over 26% of the vote in the Sept. 10 primary, did not go out with a whimper as he announced his withdrawal at a news conference outside City Hall. Thompson, facing his second failed attempt at the mayor’s office, lashed out at the Board of Elections for taking days to count all the primary ballots, saying it made it impossible to campaign for what might have been a Thompson-De Blasio runoff on Oct. 1. “In the greatest city in the world, in the greatest democracy on Earth, we ought to be able to count all the votes,” said Thompson, who ran against Bloomberg in 2009. Tens of thousands of votes — including absentee ballots and paper ballots cast by voters who encountered malfunctioning voting machines — have not been counted and are not expected to be tallied until next week.
“For all we know, given the Board of Elections, they may not finish counting the paper ballots until the runoff, or until after it’s over, or until a few days before. Under those circumstances, it is impossible to even campaign, let alone offer a meaningful choice to Democratic voters,” said Thompson.
Thompson was the only African American candidate in a field that included former Rep. Anthony Weiner, who was forced to resign his congressional seat in 2011 in a sexting scandal, and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who hoped to become the city’s first female mayor and first openly gay mayor as well.
Both Thompson and De Blasio had trailed Quinn at the start of the campaign, but Weiner’s implosion and Quinn’s close association with Bloomberg helped catapult them to the front-runner spots. Both won Democratic support by criticizing the police department’s stop-and-frisk crime-fighting tactic, which targets mainly black and Latino youth. Both also said the that under the billionaire Bloomberg, wealthy white New Yorkers had benefited at the expense of others.
De Blasio ended up with about 40% of the vote — the minimum needed to avoid a runoff — though he could drop below that number once the last paper ballots are counted.