Bill Thompson vowed Thursday night to remain in the mayoral race until all votes were counted, despite mounting pressure to concede the Democratic nomination to front-runner Bill de Blasio.
Thompson, a former comptroller who was the 2009 Democratic nominee, has remained steadfast that he will not give up until an official ballot count shows that de Blasio, the city's public advocate, remains at the 40 percent mark, enough to avoid a runoff. On Monday, elections officials will begin counting about 78,000 paper ballots and another 20,000 absentee ballots, a process that will take days.
As Republican nominee Joseph Lhota hit the trail with an anti-tax message, de Blasio stepped back into campaign mode as well, accepting endorsements from several unions who had supported primary loser Christine Quinn. He also appeared on an evening MSNBC talk show hosted by the Rev. Al Sharpton, an influential black leader who has reportedly urged Thompson to abandon his campaign in the name of party unity.
As a growing segment of the Democratic establishment rallied behind de Blasio, Thompson did not campaign Thursday. He spent the day in private meetings, his campaign said.
The Campaign Finance Board told both candidates Thursday that it would not be releasing runoff matching funds at this time, as a runoff contest was not "reasonably anticipated."
Lhota clearly considers de Blasio as the candidate he'll face in the general election. He largely overlooked Thompson in his public appearances, choosing instead to focus on de Blasio.
In an interview on WOR radio, Lhota, a former MTA chairman and Giuliani administration official, described himself as a fiscal conservative, criticized de Blasio's plan to raise taxes on the wealthy to fund universal pre-kindergarten, and said he and de Blasio were "as divergent as you could possibly get."
Later, on WNYC radio, Lhota blasted de Blasio's unofficial campaign slogan, "A Tale of Two Cities," meant to highlight the gap between rich and struggling New Yorkers.
Lhota dismissed the tactic as divisive.
"I think the way it's being portrayed as 'A Tale of Two Cities' is being done to separate the classes," he said. "What we need to do is not divide the city. We need to unite the city."
That will presumably be a common refrain between now and the Nov. 5 general election. Lhota also acknowledged he needed a lot of crossover support in a city where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 6 to 1. He said he was already hearing from Democrats interested in voting for him.
"The mayor is a person who listens to all New Yorkers," he said. "I want to listen to all New Yorkers."
De Blasio dismissed Lhota's barb at a rally on the steps of Brooklyn Borough Hall, surrounded by local politicians and union leaders, several of whom had defected from Thompson.
"Some people said it's divisive to talk about what's wrong and the challenges we have," he said. "I think it's wrong not to talk about the challenges we face."
De Blasio also enforced Lhota's point about the campaigns being so divergent. In remarks that lasted about 15 minutes, he described his platform as "progressive" a half dozen times.
--Sara Frazier contributed to this story