As expected, public advocate Bill de Blasio finished first in his bid for the Democrat mayoral nomination last night and continues to hover around the 40 percent mark. Under New York City election law, a candidate must reach the 40 percent plateau or a run-off between the top two finishers occurs at a later date – Oct. 1, in this case. Former NYC Comptroller Bill Thompson is second with 26 percent. The campaign’s original leader, City Council President Christine Quinn, finished a distant third with only 16 percent of the vote. Disgraced former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY-9) actually dropped to fifth position, capturing a mere 5 percent of his party’s vote.
Despite a turnout approaching 10 times less than the Democratic participation number, former NY Metropolitan Transit Authority chairman Joe Lhota won the Republican nomination outright, capturing 53 percent of the vote. Supermarket magnate John Catsamitidis was second with 41 percent. Doe Foundation founder George McDonald finished way back attracting just 7 percent support.
It might take several days to determine if de Blasio actually reached 40 percent, allowing for uncounted precinct, absentee and provisional ballots. Should he fall short, it will literally be by only a handful of votes, so it will be interesting to see if Thompson pushes for the run-off, or concedes the nomination. Late polls gave the first place finisher double-digit leads over the former New York comptroller, but things can certainly change in a new election between just two candidates. More likely than not, however, de Blasio will claim his party’s nomination whether it be this week or on Oct. 1. He then will face Lhota in the Nov. 5 general election.
Though the Republicans are badly outnumbered in terms of voter registration, they have kept the Democrats from winning the mayor’s office for the past 20 consecutive years. Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani served two terms beginning in 1993, and current incumbent Michael Bloomberg has held the office since 2001. The latter man was originally elected as a Republican, but later switched to Independent status. De Blasio will be favored in the general election, but expect Lhota to be competitive, especially with a public financing system that ensures he will have more than $6 million to spend on the campaign.
Elsewhere, former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who left office embroiled in a high-dollar prostitution scandal, lost his political comeback attempt to Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. Spitzer trailed the entire night, despite two late polls showing him with an advantage. Quinnipiac University’s final survey was the only publicly released entity that correctly forecast a Stringer victory. The final margin is 52-48 percent.
The controversy surrounding Anthony Weiner also likely hurt Spitzer because it vividly reminded voters of the congressman’s personal scandal, which allowed for an easy leap to Spitzer’s past problematic situation. The former governor conceded defeat before all of the votes were counted, but after it became clear he couldn’t eradicate his deficit.
Two recall state Senate elections were held last night in Colorado, and voters sent both Democratic incumbents packing. The controversial gun control legislation signed into law earlier in the year prompted the recall effort. Both targeted legislators supported the new law, one from a leadership position. State Senate President John Morse lost his seat 51-49 percent under a low turnout of less than 18,000 votes, and will be replaced by Republican Bernie Herpin, a former Colorado Springs City councilman.
In Pueblo, state Sen. Angela Giron went down to a crushing defeat, losing her recall election 56-44 percent in a much higher turnout that exceeded 34,000 participants. Her replacement is Republican George Rivera, the former Pueblo Deputy Chief of Police.
With the GOP gaining two seats last night, the Democratic chamber majority shrinks to 19-16. The results will likely fuel an even stronger challenge to Gov. John Hickenlooper (D), who polls showed was leading his re-election campaign by just one point even before these recall campaigns came to fruition.