During his yearlong quest for Mayor, Bill Thompson faced the biggest multi-million dollar campaign juggernaut in municipal history. He did so with style, grace and a gentlemanly comportment. The Thompson campaign spent election night at the New York Hilton, where hundreds of supporters packed the ballroom.
A Who’s Who of Democratic leadership made remarks. Moderated by Harlem Assemblyman Keith Wright, those who addressed the crowd during the hours as the vote count between Bloomberg and Thompson remained tight (48% to 49%) included Norman Seabrook of the Corrections Officers Association, DC 37’s Exec. Dir. Lillian Roberts, President of RWDSU Stewart Applebaum, President of the Uniformed Firefighters Association Steve Cassidy, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, Bronx Borough President Reuben Diaz, Jr., Councilwoman Letitia James, Assemblyman Darryl Towns, Assemblyman Espaillat, NYS Comptroller Tom Dinapoli, Assemblywoman Debra Glick, Assemblyman Jeff Genowitz, Congressman Anthony Weiner, and Rev. Al Sharpton.
Bill DeBlasio said “our candidate Bill Thompson is one of the most decent people in public life. He has done everything right. He has served with distinction. Bill Thompson has served us well. John Liu told the crowd that Bill Thompson “has confounded” every pollster, referring to re-election polls that inflated Bloomberg’s lead. Liu said, “we have seen results that speak well of democracy in NYC.” NYS Senate President Pro Tempore Malcolm Smith said, “It is Thompson’s time.”
As the night wore on, the crowds jubilant mood began to change as word spread that the vote total moved to 51% for Bloomberg, 46% for Thompson.
Governor Paterson said he could not leave the stage without telling the truth, “The fact is, there are too many Democrats who stayed home today, because they listened to the polls. They stayed home because they listened to people who represented everybody else’s interests except there own. Democrats need to believe in a Democratic party and those that represent the Democratic party – fighting against poor housing; fighting against drugs; crime; unemployment and underemployment. Fighting for decent educational facilities. Fighting to save the environment. And fighting for the education of our children.” Paterson added, “I want to congratulate Bill for not giving up.”
Bill Thompson was called to the stage with the crowd chanting, “Billy! Billy!” and was greeted by warm, enthusiastic applause.
Thompson’s words announcing he had just called to congratulate Michael Bloomberg was met with disapproving boos at the election results. Thompson said, “Although we have had our differences, we have always found common ground in our deep desire to serve this city. And to build a better future for this city.” He added, “And I pledge to do whatever I can to put the differences of the campaign behind us. And help him move this city forward as we work to address some very serious challenges.”
With his head held high, Thompson said, “Tonight when the final votes are counted, the results will not be in our favor yet we still have much to be proud of. This campaign was about standing up for your core values. This campaign was about standing strong, standing tall, and never backing down in the face of a formidable challenge. We are New Yorkers, That’s what we do.”
“The work we started during this campaign doesn’t end tonight, in fact, it’s just beginning,” said Thompson. “I’ll continue to work with you to make this city better. For others. It is our duty to make sure the issues we highlighted do not fade back into the shadows of our public dialog.”
Thompson said he learned about public service from parents, a school teacher and an appellate court judge. He said, by their example, “I dedicated my life to giving back to this city that has given so much to me.”
Citywide voter turnout was 1.1 million votes. Preliminary results are Bloomberg 51% (557, 059 votes); Thompson 46% (506,717 votes). Thompson won Brooklyn by 18,331 votes, and took the Bronx with 32,755 more votes than Bloomberg.
Mayor Bloomberg spent upward of $90 million dollars, outspending Thompson by 14-to-1. With an average of $157.27 per Bloomberg vote compared to $13.12 per vote for Thompson, some attendees noted that Thompson may indeed be the better money manager.
Thompson ended his remarks by saying, “Your support, your enthusiasm and desire for change is what carried me to this point. We may not have won this election, and yet I know, this campaign had to be waged. I’ll never forget how much you gave to our cause”
In central Brooklyn, election night affirmed the results of the primary. Councilwoman Letitia James won with 92% of the vote; Al Vann 63%; Mathieu Eugene 94%; Darlene Mealy 95%; and Charles Barron 93%. Jumaane Williams, who unseated Kendall Stewart, won with 76% of the vote.
Public Advocate elect Bill DeBlasio won with 77% and John Liu, Comptroller elect, won with 76%.