The Runoff Results
September 30th, 2009

Given that only about 230,000 people are thought to have voted in yesterday’s Democratic runoff, the result may not tell us much beyond the obvious — that Bill de Blasio is almost certain to be the city’s next public advocate and John Liu the city’s next comptroller. (Both face Republican opponents in November.)

But a few threads do emerge. To find out what they are, go to the jump.

Both Liu and de Blasio had the endorsement of the Working Families Party, yesterday and in their original primaries two weeks ago. De Blasio’s ties to the party are particularly tight.

The victories yesterday continue a very successful election year for the Working Families Party. In the Sept. 15 primary, challengers backed by the party toppled four sitting council members.

“The Working Families Party, once derided as a ragtag collection of Brooklyn progressives, is now the pre-eminent political force in New York City politics, replacing a forlorn, disorganized Democratic Party,” Michael Barbaro observed in the City Room.

Yesterday’s victors both opposed the extension of term limits. De Blasio, in fact, was a leader of the unsuccessful effort to keep the two-term limit. While not as vocal on the issue as de Blasio, Liu voted against the term limits change. His opponent, Councilmember David Yassky, voted for it in the council. That vote — and Yassky’s alleged flip-flopping on the issue — formed the core of Liu’s attack on Yassky in their final debate last week.

Among the small number of New Yorkers who voted yesterday, negative ads did not seem to be very effective. While de Blasio and Liu both went somewhat negative in the final days of the campaign, de Blasio’s opponent, Mark Green, and Yassky came out throwing mud as soon as the runoff contest began. Green assailed de Blasio for his use of City Council discretionary funds and for working as a lobbyist when he was on the City Council.

Yassky, who had stuck to the high road in the original primary campaign, switched course in the runoff, attacking Liu’s integrity in a television ad, in mailers and in their debate.

If there’s trend here — a big “if” — it’s worth remembering that David Weprin, who ran the most negative campaign in the primary race for comptroller — finished fourth in a field of four. There is, of course, a kind of chicken and egg issue here: Candidates tend to go negative when they are trailing. All one can say for sure is the negative ads did not allow Green, Yassky or Weprin to come from behind.

And then finally yesterday’s election underscores the emergence of Asian-American voters as a force in the city’s politics. Assuming he wins in November, Liu will become New York’s first Asian-American citywide elected official. This comes after three Asians won City Council primaries last week.

Brawl for the Hall noted that 6,910 more people voted for comptroller than for public advocate. “Perhaps some of that is ethnic pride, as Asian-Americans streamed to the polls to elect one of their own to citywide office for the first time. (Mark Green even sent out a mailer in Chinese and Korean to try to capture this audience.),” the blog’s Adam Lisberg said.

“The Asian American vote made a tremendous difference in a low-turnout runoff,” wrote the Instant Yang blog. “We can make a difference. We did. And this is just the beginning.”

By on September 30, 2009, 8:32 am
In category: Electoral Politics,Gotham City | Comments Off on The Runoff Results

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