By Mary Alice Miller
Bill Thompson conceded the primary on Monday, flanked by front-runner Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo. “Today, almost a week after the primary, we still don’t know the outcome of the election,” said Thompson. “We don’t know if there should be a runoff or if there shouldn’t be a runoff. We don’t know how many votes I got, or even how many votes were cast. And we’re not talking about a few votes here and there. We’re talking about tens of thousands of votes.”
Thompson called the situation “a disgrace”, adding that, “In the greatest city in the world, in the greatest democracy on earth, we ought to be able to count votes. But the reality is, right now the votes have not been counted, and it is by no means clear when they will be counted. For all we know, the Board of Elections might not finish counting paper ballots till the date scheduled for a runoff has come and gone.”
Under those circumstances, it is impossible to even campaign, let alone offer a meaningful choice to Democratic voters, said Thompson. With the primary vote outcome unresolved, the NYC Campaign Finance Board would not release funds of the mayoral runoff making it impossible for the Thompson campaign to make spending decisions.
In an effort to unify the Democratic Party leading up to the general election, Thompson threw his support behind de Blasio and asked his supporters to do the same. “Bill de Blasio and I want to move our city forward in the same direction. We share the same views and values,” said Thompson. “This is bigger than either one of us. And the best way to guarantee that we improve schools, save our hospitals, create good jobs, protect our people and their rights is to come together.”
On Monday, the Board of Elections began counting 78,000 absentee and affidavit paper ballots.
The slow, methodical vote tally is not entirely the Board of Election’s fault. The BOE is chronically underfunded. Earlier this year, the state legislature granted NYC the right to use the old lever mechanical machines. And last year, the legislature amended state election law to, among other things, reduce the number of signatures required to get on the ballot. But the fight to move state primaries to June was stymied by Senate Republicans.
In the latest mayoral poll of likely voters, Bill de Blasio has opened up a 43-point lead over Republican Joe Lhota (65-22%). But just as there was poll movement during the primary campaigns, voters can expect fluidity leading up to the general election.
Now that the primaries are over (except for the Oct.1 Public Advocate runoff), voters can expect third-party candidates including Adolfo Carrion (on the Independence Party line) and Michael Greys (on the Freedom Party line) to step up their messaging.
Brooklyn Democratic County Leader Frank Seddio’s first Judicial Convention formally nominated five candidates for Supreme Court Judge. Judges Betty Williams, Desmond Greene, Dawn Jimenez, Bernard Graham and Kenneth Sherman were nominated to run for this year’s five vacancies. Next year, there will be three vacancies to be filled.
Republican mayoral candidate Joe Lhota and the Republican and Conservative Parties are encouraging Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes to actively campaign for the general election. Hynes had said he would not campaign after Ken Thompson’s primary upset (55-44%). Unless the District Attorney’s Office takes action between now and Jan.1, four Brooklyn police shootings of civilians will remain unresolved. Hynes has not yet empaneled grand juries in the deaths of Shem Walker, Shantel Davis, Tamon Robinson and Kimani Gray. Ken Thompson will inherit those cases.
On primary night, Robert Cornegy had a 94-vote lead in the 35th Council race. By Friday, a canvass of the machines saw his votes increase to 150. “Hopefully, that trend and trajectory will continue with the paper (ballot count),” said Cornegy.
Council member Letitia James – who got 36% of the primary vote – faces off with State Senator Daniel Squadron (33%) after she didn’t meet the 40% threshold to prevent a runoff. With no Republican candidate for Public Advocate, the runoff will decide who becomes the city’s advocate.
In other political news, federal authorities announced that Assemblyman William Boyland, Jr. will enter a guilty plea next Monday. Boyland was charged last year with bribing undercover FBI agents and claiming reimbursement for per diem expenses on days he was not in Albany.
The terms of Boyland’s plea are not yet known, but a felony plea deal will require him to step down from the Assembly, leaving his seat open. With Assemblywoman Inez Barron’s election to the City Council, her seat will open on Jan. 1. State Senator Eric Adams’ pending election to Brooklyn Borough President will open his seat. And if State Senator Daniel Squadron is elected NYC Public Advocate, his seat will open. (Pending the outcome of a federal trial, State Senator John Sampson’s seat is an open question.) Governor Cuomo will have to schedule special elections. Until that happens, Brooklyn will have four open Senate and Assembly seats. Once a legislative seat is open the governor can call for a special election, which would take place between 70 and 80 days of the announcement, and would occur in the spring during the height of the legislative session. Or the governor can wait until next year’s general election.