Just shy of a week after he cleared 40% in the primary, Bill de Blasio can now call himself the Democratic Party's nominee for mayor of New York City.
Bill Thompson, who came in second place last Tuesday and held out hope for a runoff election against the frontrunner, announced Monday morning on the steps of City Hall, alongside de Blasio and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, that he would withdraw from the race in the spirit of Democratic unity.
As a light rain fell on the steps of City Hall, Thompson spoke next to de Blasio and Cuomo, who reportedly helped broker the concession. Thompson spoke to a group of about 100 reporters at an event attended by some of his top backers in the primary, including Rep. Charlie Rangel, Michael Mulgrew of the United Federation of Teachers, and Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers.
In his remarks, Thompson emphasized that he decided to withdraw because of party solidarity, not the vote count — "tens of thousands of votes," he said, have yet to be accounted for.
"Today, almost a week after the primary, we still don't know the outcome of the election. We don't know if there should be a runoff, or if there shouldn't be a runoff," Thompson said. "We don't know how many votes I got, or even how many votes were cast."
"That's a disgrace," Thompson added, calling for Board of Elections reform. "In the greatest city in the world, in the greatest democracy on earth, we ought to be able to count all the votes."
In his endorsement of de Blasio, Thompson said he shared the fundamental views and values as the nominee. "It would be a disservice to my supporters, a disservice to Democrats, and most of all a disservice to the people of New York City who are desperate for a new direction after 12 long years," he said.
After embracing Thompson in a hug, de Blasio took the podium. "There is nothing more beautiful than Democratic unity, and I thank you for it," he said, addressing a crowd of about 100 reporters. Citing his friendship with and mutual respect for Thompson, de Blasio vowed to "turn to Bill regularly for advice and counsel and leadership" as mayor.
Cuomo, stepping into the mayoral race in a prominent way for the first time this year, wrapped up the event with praise for both candidates. The governor applauded Thompson for putting "aside his own personal ambition" for the greater interest of the Democratic Party. "It can be much harder to step back than step forward," Cuomo said.
Although Cuomo is thought to have played a large role in Monday's announcement, he told reporters after the event that the decision was Thompson's alone. "I happen to think it was the right one, but it was a very personal decision," the governor said.
"I was here to applaud Bill Thompson. This is a tough day for Bill," Cuomo added. "I wanted to be here to support Bill and help unify the Democratic Party."