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De Blasio wins mayoral race

Democratic candidate for New York City mayor Bill de Blasio with supporters yesterday.

Democratic candidate for New York City mayor Bill de Blasio with supporters yesterday.

NEW YORK – Bill de Blasio, a harsh liberal critic of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, won the most votes in the New York City Democratic mayoral primary today but may still face a runoff, according to unofficial results.

With nearly 90 per cent of precincts reporting, Public Advocate de Blasio was winning 40 percent and former city comptroller Bill Thompson 26 per cent, according to NY1 television.

De Blasio needs at least 40 percent of the official vote or he will face Thompson on October 1 to decide who will be the Democratic nominee in the race to succeed Bloomberg in running the most populous city in the United States.

But with about 19,000 absentee and military ballots due to be counted starting on Monday, election officials said, the runoff was up in the air.

“We will have a better sense on Monday,” said New York City Board of Elections spokeswoman Valerie Vasquez.

Neither candidate was willing to throw in the towel when they thanked their supporters today.

De Blasio, a lanky 6-foot-5 and one of the more liberal candidates on the ballot, called his campaign “an unapologetically progressive alternative to the Bloomberg era.”

“Settling for the status quo isn’t just too small. It’s a risk we as a city cannot afford to take,” he said, flanked by his mixed-race family. “And policing policies that single out young people of colour … that isn’t a New York we can allow to continue.”

De Blasio ran on a platform opposing stop and frisk – a police tactic that overwhelmingly targets young black men and hailed by Bloomberg as critical to fighting crime. He also has proposed raising taxes on the city’s highest earners to pay for universal pre-kindergarten.

Thompson, the only black candidate in the race, vowed to stay in the race and battle de Blasio if a runoff is called.

“We’re going to finish what we started,” he said at his primary night celebration at a midtown Manhattan hotel. “This is far from over.”

Thompson lost the 2009 race to Bloomberg, who has been mayor for 12 years, and is leaving office due to term limits.

Christine Quinn, who would have been the city’s first female and openly gay mayor if elected, was seen as most likely to follow Bloomberg’s moderate policies. She won only 15 percent of the vote, the results showed.

On the Republican side, Joe Lhota, a deputy to former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, was the projected winner of the Republican mayoral primary.

The former head of the city’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, defeated John Catsimatidis, according to NY1.

“I’m hearing a lot coming from the other side about a tale of two cities and how they want to tear down the progress that’s happened over the last 20 years,” Lhota said at his victory celebration. “This tale is nothing more than class warfare, an attempt to divide our city.”

“The last thing we want is to send our city back to the days of economic despair, fear and hopelessness,” he said. (Reuters)

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