Peabody award–winning journalist Andrea Bernstein is Senior Editor for Politics & Policy for WNYC News. She has previously served as Metro Editor, Political Director, Director of Transportation Nation, and Senior Reporter.
Bloomberg Remarks Overshadow Democrats' Final Sprint
Sunday, September 08, 2013
In the final days before the primary election it wasn't Bill de Blasio's rapid rise, or Christine Quinn's potential for a historic role as the city's first woman mayor, or even Al D'Amato's last-minute exhortation on behalf of Bill Thompson, that grabbed voters' attention. It was a published interview Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave to New York Magazine, in which he called de Blasio's campaign "class-warfare" and "racist," praised Quinn for "seven and a half years of keeping legislation that never should have made it to the floor," and called on more Russian billionaires to move to the city.
The candidates used the last Sunday before the primary, when it's hard to add anything new to an already crowded narrative, to whip up voters. At a rally at Brooklyn Borough Hall de Blasio supporters, including union activists, Cynthia Nixon, Marisa Tomei, and New York Communities for Change (formerly ACORN), proudly declared "we are not the one percent!" The hundreds of supporters who packed the plaza seemed almost more riled up than the candidate, who spent half his talk thanking supporters before launching into a tirade against inequalities.
"This city needs to change!" de Blasio said, before exhorting supporters to drink coffee and Red Bull so they could work all of the next 48 hours. "This city needs to change. We have to express our urgency to others. This is not an optional situation. The kind of inqualities we're facing in New York today can't continue."
Meanwhile, Christine Quinn vowed to continue the campaign into a runoff. "And girls will know the sky is the limit for them!" Quinn shouted, invoking the suffragist movement. "We might have thought this campaign is hard. But think about the women who won us our right to vote. Nothing compares to what they went through."
Stumping for Quinn, former mayoral candidate Ruth Messinger was more direct. "There's no other candidate in this race whose temperament gets questioned every day!" Messinger said.
For his part, at a get out the vote rally in Crown Heights, Bill Thompson and his backers made a direct appeal for Jewish voters in the neighborhood, which is home to the Lubavitch sect of the Hasidic community. He was joined by a handful of locals, Assemblyman Dov Hikind, and former U.S. Sen. Alfonse D'Amato, a Republican who has been an early and vocal supporter of the candidate.
D’Amato said Thompson was the only “grown-up” among the Democratic primary candidates. He also made a pointed appeal to the voters of the Jewish community. "This is our opportunity to protect our own interests and make him the next mayor of New York."
Thompson spent the morning at black churches, even though a poll released Sunday showed him trailing to de Blasio among black voters.
“Are we going to have a future of empty promises? Because that’s what we’re seeing right now,” said Thompson, taking a shot at de Blasio’s tax plan which requires approval from state lawmakers. “Empty promises. People who will say anything. They will forget what they’ve done in the past. They’ll make any promise to get help, to get people’s votes.”
“That’s not what I’m going to do. I’m talking about hard work, not easy words,” said Thompson, urging the crowd to turnout for him on Tuesday.
But at the end of the day, Bloomberg's remarks dogged candidates at every stop. Even Gov. Andrew Cuomo jumped into the fray, issuing a rare swipe at Mayor Bloomberg, whose comments he called "unnecessary" and "inflammatory." Speaking to reporters in Buffalo, Cuomo, who was de Blasio's boss at the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, said the mayor's comments "have no place in our political discourse."
De Blasio thanked Cuomo for his defense. When asked if his campaign had been called racist, he answered, "I have to say I think that's a first for me. Definitely surprised me, and I think it's inappropriate, as I've said. But I think people all over the city are obviously drawing their own conclusions and I'm particularly appreciative that the governor stood up for me in such a powerful way."