NEW YORK—Bill Thompson, the runner-up in last Tuesday’s Democratic primary for the mayor of New York City, bowed to party pressure and conceded to Bill de Blasio today, allowing de Blasio to avoid a costly runoff. De Blasio, the most liberal of the Democratic candidates, now has a much simpler path to City Hall.
The New York City Board of Elections still hadn’t finished counting votes almost a week after the primary, which Thompson in his concession speech called a “disgrace.” The election was plagued with problems after the city decided to revert to its 1960s-era lever machines instead of electronic voting. On primary day some the machines malfunctioned, and many voters had to resort to paper ballots–which the Board of Elections is still counting.
De Blasio was the clear winner even if the necessity of a runoff was uncertain. In the unofficial results, he captured 40.3 percent of the vote to Thompson’s 26.2 percent. De Blasio needed to clear the 40 percent threshold to avoid a runoff. As days ticked by after the primary, more Thompson supporters began melting away to unify behind de Blasio.
Thompson, the Democratic nominee in 2009, came close to defeating Mayor Michael Bloomberg when Bloomberg won a third and final term.
This morning Thompson made his concession speech on the steps of City Hall, with de Blasio and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo standing behind him in a show of party unity. Cuomo, though he officially endorsed de Blasio today, had appointed de Blasio’s general election rival Joe Lhota, the Republican primary winner, to head the city’s Metropolitan Transit Authority.
The general election scuffles can now begin in earnest between de Blasio and Lhota. The city has not elected a Democrat as mayor since 1989, even though Democrats outnumber Republicans in the city about 7-to-1. Lhota’s chances are slim, especially because he supports the city’s current “stop-and-frisk” policy, which has become a central issue in the campaign.