One day remains until the New York City primary elections, which will determine a slew of Republican and Democrat nominees, most notably for mayor and city comptroller. The likely frontrunners in the hotly contested mayoral race are former transit chief Joseph Lhota for the Republican nomination and Public Advocate/Charles Dickens fan Bill de Blasio for the Democratic candidate.
De Blasio emerged from a crowded pack after former Congressman Anthony Weiner, who entered the race in the eleventh hour just before Memorial Day, lost his front-runner status. His dalliances post-resignation—much lamented by Bill Zeiser in the September issue of TAS—were the likely source of his fall, while another former front-runner, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, can safely attribute her current position to the “Anybody but Quinn” animus built up by a large coalition of her political enemies. Her fall from front-runner status comes in spite of major support from unions and the endorsement of New York’s big newspapers.
New York City primaries require a runoff election if no one candidate can collect 40 percent of the vote. In the Republican primary, there will almost certainly be no runoff, but amongst the Democratic contenders there is some consternation. Recent polls show de Blasio above or around the 40 percent threshold, but the New York City Campaign Finance Board anticipates a runoff. This would occur on October 1 and most likely involve de Blasio and his strongest-polling opposition, former city comptroller Bill Thompson.
The race could look like a repeat of 2005’s Democratic mayoral primary, where front-runner and former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer achieved just above 40 percent, but only after a tense election night in which then-Congressman Weiner seemed ready to contest the result. Weiner bowed out early the next day, ostensibly for the sake of party unity. It is improbable that Bill Thompson would be so magnanimous.
A de Blasio victory would signal a sharper turn to the left than usual for New York, which has not had a Democrat sitting in Gracie Manor for the past six mayoral elections, though de Blasio might have some difficulty implementing much of his agenda—particularly his plan to raise taxes to pay for pre-K—due to resistance from Albany. Lhota can be expected to govern similarly to his former boss, Mayor Giuliani
Meanwhile, some polls show Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer now far ahead of chief rival Eliot Spitzer.
For more, read Ryan Girdusky’s take on Anthony Weiner’s doomed chances here.