Bill Thompson officially ended his second mayoral run Monday morning, taking to the steps of City Hall to throw his support behind Bill de Blasio.
As the Republican party coalesces behind Joe Lhota, with John Catsimatidis this weekend rescinding his bid to run on a third party line in the general election, it appeared New York City Democrats are feeling a sense of urgency to do so as well. Some Thompson supporters had already lined up behind de Blasio last week, citing that very concern.
"There is nothing more beautiful than Democratic unity!" de Blasio declared as he accepted Thompson's concession and endorsement.
Governor Andrew Cuomo was also on hand to praise Thompson for stepping back in the interest of party unity. Cuomo noted it is "often more difficult to step back than to step forward," and applauded Thompson for putting aside ambition in the interest of re-taking City Hall for the Democratic Party.
"I believe the best days for New York City are ahead and today we take the first step," Cuomo announced.
And referring to de Blasio as "a great New Yorker," Thompson bowed to party unity, granting "the best way to return fairness and decency, justice and dignity, hope and equality to every neighborhood in New York is to return a progressive to City Hall."
"Is it a difficult decision? Sure," Thompson said later of stepping down. "But it's the right decision."
But Thompson's ire at the Board of Elections was not diminished, seemed to play a role in his decision as well. He pointedly and repeatedly condemned the BOE for the delay in counting ballots which he said made it "impossible to even campaign let alone offer a meaningful choice to Democratic voters" in a potential runoff.
"Today, almost a week after the primary, we still don't know the outcome of the election," Thompson fumed. "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 are cast. And we're not talking about a few voters here and there. We're talking about tens of thousands of votes. That's a disgrace."
Citing the same concerns outlined by a lawyer for his campaign in a letter to the Campaign Finance Committee, Thompson said that the time the BOE has taken and will likely continue to take in counting all of the votes makes it "impossible to even campaign, let alone offer a meaningful choice to Democratic voters."
"It's by no means clear when they will be counted," Thompson fumed. "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."
"I'm thinking about the future of this city," he added. "At this point, putting someone in City Hall who holds the same values I have, I believe is important."
Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Teachers Federation and one of Thompson's most vocal and active supporters on his campaign, also expressed frustration with the BOE, citing the delay as a pragmatic reason to line up behind de Blasio.
"When it became clearer to us that the Board of Elections could not get this count done, I mean, that's a real concern," Mulgrew said. "Remember, the machine canvas was supposed to be done by Friday evening. It's Monday. They're not done. Now they have to count over 70,000 pieces of paper and they haven't finished the machine count?"
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