Progressives — and former detractors — crowd behind Bill de Blasio

bill de blasio progressives rally
Dozens of progressive groups, labor union members and elected officials join Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio on the steps of Borough Hall in Brooklyn on Thursday. Credit: Danielle Tcholakian

With only a brief respite on Sept. 11, Bill de Blasio’s campaign for mayor started up again at full speed Thursday.

At a midday rally in front of Borough Hall in Brooklyn, dozens of progressive groups and leaders packed the steps behind a triumphant de Blasio.

“If you want to see what victory looks like, just look around me,” de Blasio declared before reeling off a list of the new supporters crowded in behind him.

Among them were several former endorsers of City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, including some who had not too long ago had harsh words for de Blasio when coming to Quinn’s defense.

Hector Figueroa of 32BJSEIU at a press conference just a few weeks ago touted Quinn as “an effective progressive,” not a “rhetorical progressive,” in a jab at de Blasio.

After Thursday’s rally, Figueroa acknowledged the change of heart, and noted that the Democratic ticket was crowded with Democratic candidates “all of whom have worked well with the unions” all along.

At the time, the unions liked Quinn because they felt that all the Democrats held the same position on a number of issues, but Quinn had the strongest “record of accomplishment” in achieving legislation in her council role.

“At that point we were very firm in our view that [Quinn] was the best candidate,” Figueroa said, “but the voters ultimately decide who is going to be the person that leads the party.”

He noted that voters are clearly drawn to de Blasio’s message, tone and the issues that he is addressing.

“We are firmly behind de Blasio,” he attested.

Figueroa said the difference in Quinn’s and de Blasio’s legislative records is one of occupation: Quinn’s job as council speaker is to legislate.

“The position of public advocate, like the name says, is to advocate,” Figueroa said. “But he has clearly won the minds and the hearts of Democrats, and we need to be respectful of that voice.”

“A rhetorical Democrat can become an effective Democrat,” he added, “and I hope that he will so that he can become the mayor so that his message can be translated to policy and action.”

There was no mention made at the rally of the potential runoff — ostensibly, de Blasio is not yet the only candidate on the Democratic ticket, as there are still votes that remain to be counted next week. If those ballots bring de Blasio’s count below 40 percent, he will face Bill Thompson in a special election in October.

“We could have waited,” Figueroa acknowledged, “and I respect those who have chosen to do that. But we believe we need to get quickly on the ground with the full force of our operation.”

“We don’t see any benefit of waiting, and we encourage those out there who care about the city and care about the issues that de Blasio and all the candidates were talking about during the election to stop waiting and jump in,” he added.

Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat


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