Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, SIPA '87, won the Democratic mayoral primary Tuesday night, but it was unclear early Wednesday whether he would avoid a runoff election.
In Manhattan, meanwhile, City Council member Gale Brewer, who currently represents the Upper West Side, handily won the race for borough president.
If a recount of the mayoral election votes planned for Wednesday shows that de Blasio cleared 40 percent—he was at 40.19 percent early Wednesday morning—there will be no runoff. Otherwise, de Blasio will face former Comptroller Bill Thompson on Oct. 1.
In his victory speech, de Blasio didn’t mention the possibility of a runoff, vaguely referring to the “next phase” of his campaign. He emphasized the theme of his campaign: reducing inequality.
“We know that New York City is the greatest city on Earth, and not only because of our economic might or our stunning skyline or our vibrant culture,” he said. New York is great because it “hears the voices of everyone,” he said.
“We are bigger, we are stronger, we are better as a city when we make sure that everyone has a shot,” de Blasio said.
Thompson, who vowed to continue campaigning, got about 26 percent of the vote. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, considered the frontrunner through most of the campaign, received just 15.5 percent as of early Wednesday.
If he avoids a runoff, de Blasio will move to the general election in November. He would face Republican nominee Joe Lhota, the former Metropolitan Transporation Authority chair, and Independence Party nominee Adolfo Carrión, the former Bronx borough president.
Despite the uncertainty, the de Blasio victory party at The Bell House in Gowanus, Brooklyn was festive, with supporters chanting and cheering as de Blasio gave his victory speech at midnight.
Supporters crowded into the bar and spilled into a packed block party outside. Adults, children, and dogs mingled among reporters, staffers, and volunteers. Food trucks fed the supporters, and two large televisions outside broadcasted election news and de Blasio’s speech. Supporters alternated between cheers of “Bill, de Blasio” and “de Blasio, Bill.”
The candidate’s supporters remained optimistic throughout the night as poll numbers fluctuated at the 40 percent line.
“It’s exhilarating to be with so many activists, people who have been involved with the process,” supporter Eric Weltman said.
Many said they were drawn to de Blasio’s progressive views.
“De Blasio has articulated class issues, which no one has really ever brought up,” Mark Shilen of Brooklyn said. “There’s a black-white, there’s a rich-poor divide in this city ... and I don’t remember really anyone bringing it up” other than de Blasio, he said.
Ed Yarngo of Brooklyn said de Blasio is “a man by the people, for the people. He’s proven himself, and it’s his time to shine.”
Introducing de Blasio at the victory party was his 18-year-old daughter, Chiara de Blasio.
“In my humble opinion, every vote for my dad represents a voice saying enough is enough,” she said.
In Manhattan, Gale Brewer, the Upper West Side City Council member, won the Democratic primary for Manhattan borough president Tuesday night. She had about 37 percent of the vote as of early Wednesday morning.
“We won tonight on our integrity,” Brewer told a packed crowd at her campaign headquarters on Broadway between 93rd and 94th streets. The crowd erupted in cheers as she thanked her campaign volunteers, supporters, and endorsers.
Brewer defeated City Council members Jessica Lappin and Robert Jackson and former Community Board 1 chair Julie Menin, CC ’89, who finished with 24 percent, 20 percent, and 17 percent, respectively.
Brewer, who has been on the City Council since 2002, has racked up a long legislative record, including major sick pay and open data laws.
But many of the supporters at her party said Brewer is more than just her policies.
“I wanted to pick a candidate who really speaks to me,” Mimi Otani, who lives in Harlem, said. “Not only does she support paid leave and affordable housing, but she also supports the seniors.”
“She wants to be a public servant, not just to have power,” Jerry Weinstein, Otani’s husband, chimed in. “How many people can we say that about?”
Campaign volunteers raced to computers to record early exit poll numbers and entered the results on a spreadsheet that was projected in the back of the room. Excitement for Brewer’s new role started to build as the polls came in.
With her husband, son, and 92-year-old father behind her, Brewer stressed the importance of local elections.
“Tip O’Neil once said, ‘All politics is local,’” she said.
Volunteers and supporters recited the quotation with her, as though they’d heard her say it before.
Further uptown, at his watch party at Coogan’s on Broadway and 169th Street, Jackson was upbeat despite his defeat.
“Education is the key to uplift our families,” he said. “But I say to all of you that these are issues that we are all going to face, and to do so we need to come behind the democratic nominee come November.”
Jackson was joined by two local political heavyweights—City Council member Inez Dickens and Rep. Charles Rangel, who praised his commitment to the community and expressed hopes for his future.
“Jackson was a leader long before he became a politician,” Rangel said. “He’s brought this community together, and together we’re going to make it part of a winning team.”
Dickens thanked Jackson’s supporters for their enthusiasm and hard work for his campaign, and expressed confidence in his further political campaigns.
“Robert ran a good, hard race and he should have been the winner,” Dickens said. “But he has a great fight still to come.”