Anthony Weiner faces elimination in New York City mayoral primary

Written by Max Ehrenfreund

Voters head to the polls today for the primary in New York City’s colorful municipal election, which has featured campaigns by former congressman Anthony Weiner and former governor Eliot Spitzer, who both resigned from their previous offices amid scandal. City public advocate Bill de Blasio is favored among Democratic voters for mayor and may win the party’s nomination without a run-off, according to a new poll:

The poll shows de Blasio losing a little ground in the Democratic mayoral primary, but he still leads 2009 nominee Bill Thompson 39 percent to 25 percent.

The city’s current public advocate would need to pick off just 1 percent of the 8 percent who are undecided to get the 40 percent he needs to win the nomination without a two-candidate runoff.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn is third at 18 percent, while former congressman Anthony Weiner continues to lose ground and stands at 6 percent.

In the comptroller’s race, the Q poll shows Spitzer continuing to drop. After leading by double digits a couple of weeks ago, he trails Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer 50-43. Aaron Blake

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has not endorsed a candidate, but his tenure has defined the contest to replace him:

The Republican mayoral hopefuls are largely promising to maintain his policies, while the Democrats have offered a sharply different approach. [De Blasio] is pitching himself as the cleanest break with the current administration. And while just weeks ago his campaign was an afterthought, he now has a legitimate shot of surging right past the 40 percent mark that would avoid a runoff three weeks from now.

“He’s the candidate that represents the most change,” said Joshua Bauchner, 40, an attorney who voted in Harlem for de Blasio.

De Blasio’s rise was as sudden as it was unexpected. He benefited from placing his interracial family at the heart of his campaign, connecting with voters over the need for NYPD reforms, and by drawing away voters from Anthony Weiner supporters following the former congressman’s latest sexting scandal.

If de Blasio’s support holds, the other spot in the potential runoff appears to be a matchup between City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and former comptroller Bill Thompson.

“I think she’s got the experience from working with Bloomberg,” said Lupe Moreno, 65, a real estate broker, who voted in Harlem for Quinn.

Quinn, who is bidding to become the city’s first female and first openly gay mayor, led the polls for most of the year but has seen support disappear as her rivals have repeatedly linked her to the bitter debate to let Bloomberg run for a third term in 2009.

The mayor’s opponent that year was Thompson, who stunned the political world by nearly upsetting the billionaire incumbent. The race’s lone African American, Thompson has said he is counting on winning the bulk of black and Latino voters to propel him to the runoff. Associated Press

Bloomberg recently told New York magazine that he felt de Blasio’s use of his family in his campaign was “racist,” a comment that frustrated opinion writer Jonathan Capehart:

Instead of “racist,” perhaps Bloomberg meant de Blasio was employing a “racial appeal”? But so what? Politicians enlist their families in campaigns all the time. Their spouses and children humanize them. Their presence on the trail and in campaign ads deliver implicit or explicit messages to the electorate. Bloomberg has done it. For instance, Bloomberg’s late beloved mother appeared in campaign literature and went to a senior center on her son’s behalf during his first campaign for mayor in 2001. A campaign that I proudly worked on as a policy adviser.

De Blasio’s multiracial family (his wife is African American) has been a key part of his campaign. The New York Post’s John Podhoretz argues that Dante’s ad for his dad is the reason for de Blasio’s poll vault. A sudden rise that has the city’s public advocate snagging almost twice as much support (47 percent) from African Americans as Bill Thompson, the only African American in the race. This is significant in a majority minority city.

After all hell broke loose when the comments went public late Saturday afternoon, New York magazine said it was asked by the mayor’s office to add “Well, no, no, I mean.” While the interjection takes a bit of the sting out of what Bloomberg said, the comment reveals once again that he is prone to saying what he thinks as indelicately as humanly possible.

The rest of Bloomberg’s comments on the class-warfare aspect of de Blasio’s campaign fall into this category, too. Jonathan Capehart

For more excerpts from Bloomberg’s interview, continue reading here. Meanwhile, the Republican candidates for mayor are hoping to extend their party’s control of the office for at least another term:

That Catsimatidis has a chance of becoming a major-party nominee in the race to replace fellow billionaire Michael Bloomberg is a testament to his money and how he spends it. He has collected the endorsements of GOP leaders including Skelos, county leaders, former governor George Pataki and politicians who have benefited from his generous political donations in the past. He also enriched his political consultants with a “Brewster’s Millions” spending spree on negative ads attacking his opponent, Joe Lhota. A much more disciplined, articulate and plausible candidate who is heavily favored, Lhota has channeled the ghost of Rudy Giuliani back into New York politics.

The Republican race has mostly served as a side show to the Democratic circus (‘In one ring Anthony Weiner on the Internet, in another contortionist Christine Quinn tries to slip out of a Bloombergian knot, in the third Bill Thompson clears his throat for months, and in the fourth Michael Bloomberg bashes Bill de Blasio and his interracial family) — not to mention Eliot Spitzer’s attempted comeback bid in the comptroller’s race. But peripheral as the Republican contest has been, it is also worth pointing out that New Yorkers haven’t elected a Democrat as mayor in more than 20 years.

“We’ve had five terms of anything but Democratic control of the mayor’s office,” Lhota said in a phone interview, adding: “There’s no doubt that candidates on the Democratic side have shifted consistently to the left and I believe to their long-term detriment.”

Lhota’s nomination would be a Rudy redux, and his general election strategy will seek to convince New Yorkers that he stands between them and the return of what he calls the “civil decay” of former mayor David Dinkins’s administration, in which current Democratic front-runner Bill de Blasio got his professional start. Jason Horowitz

Colorado is also holding important elections today. For more political analysis, continue reading here.

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