Hold fast to your dreams for when dreams die, they are like a broken winged bird unable to fly.- Langston Hughes
Perhaps Bill Thompson is conflicted. Playing by the rules would usually curry favor in the court of popular opinion, hence Thompson is waiting for the 1 percent of votes yet to be counted, to ensure de Blasio did not garner the 40 percent needed to avoid a runoff. Thompson is keeping hope and his campaign alive, even as many democratic leaders are calling for Thompson to step down. As of 9am on Sept. 12, de Blasio received 40.3 percent of the vote.
It's hard to say how I would feel if I knew I were so close to qualifying for a runoff. Back in 2009, Thompson, despite being outspent by NYC's billionaire-mayor Bloomberg, came surprisingly close to beating the turn-limit overturning incumbent; hence, Thompson is no stranger to the emotional turbulence of close elections. In 2009, Thompson received 46 percent of the vote (losing to Bloomberg) and in 2013 primary he received 26.2 percent (contesting the loss against de Blasio). While campaigning to keep his campaign alive Thompson states that he owes it to his constituents, the unions (including the UFT and the Fire Department), and others who voted for him to continue to be a voice for their issues. In fact, Thompson's website is still active boasting "Supporters like you are the reason we have come this far.
Two Steps Forward, Two Steps Back
In Thompson's second run for mayor, the aftertaste of second place isn't as sweet as the first time. Back in 2008, he was the triumphant underdog, this time however, he's close to becoming persona non-grata. Let's find out why, according to the Daily News:
1. de Blasio plans a "unity rally" today to galvanize all of the energy and enthusiasm of the democratic party.
2. According to the Daily News, "Leaders of three unions that backed City Council Speaker Christine Quinn for mayor -- Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union, the Hotel Trades Council and the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Workers Union -- signaled that they are jumping to de Blasio or that Thompson should not pursue a runoff."
3. Lastly party insiders suggest that "By the end of this week, you should see all the Democrats uniting behind one candidate," the source said, predicting Thompson would soon recognize that a bruising, three-week runoff with De Blasio would not help the Democrats' chances of recapturing City Hall after being out of power for 20 years.
Indeed the last democratic mayor of ultra-liberal NYC was David Dinkins when I was in middle school. Though many believe de Blasio to be a strong candidate able to unify a divided "tale of two cities", there is still reason for caution. Lhota, the Republican rival and former Giuliani aide is being funded by the Tea Party billionaire-beatnik David Koch and with $175,000 already donated and commercials already flooding the airways, the road to Gracie Mansion may become a treacherous uphill battle for de Blasio.
Perception Versus Reality Checks
While Thompson may technically qualify for a run-off, I don't think it's politically salient. His perceived political purgatory is buttressed by the irrefutable fact that he garnered less than 30 percent of the vote. According to Talking Points Memo, "Thompson's campaign has seemingly focused on key blocs in Upper Manhattan, the Bronx, and Central Brooklyn. When TPM asked whether de Blasio's lead in the polls showed this strategy may have been somewhat flawed, Thompson rejected the notion he hasn't run a broad campaign." It's hard to imagine that Thompson would be able to make up all that lost ground without a smear campaign which the Koch-funded Lhota campaign already started.
Hence I feel Thompson should explore his inner amphibian and adapt to this familiar terrain of second place, by bowing out gracefully, for the sake of all New Yorkers. After all it was Thompson who stated loudly "He needs to make this about the people of the city of New York, not about himself," to MSNBC's Chuck Todd about Anthony Weiner. With 99 percent of poll stations closed... I think the voters have voiced their desires, but is Bill Thompson ready to listen? Only time will tell.