Runoff Elections Cost A Lot, Mean Little

De Blasio vs. Green; Liu vs. Yassky

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    Bill de Blasio speaks from the podium as opponent Mark Green looks on during a debate on Sept. 8.

    It has been a bitter, protracted campaign ahead of Tuesday's runoff vote for public advocate and comptroller -- a special election that will cost the city  millions of dollars but is expected to draw fewer than 10 percent of registered Democrats.

    This exercise in democracy has come about because no candidate in either race received 40% or more of the vote in the primary. Now, the city's Board of Elections will spend about $15 million to mount the runoff, the New York Times reported, asking too, if the whole practice is "superfluous?"

    The two candidates locked in the runoff for public advocate are Brooklyn councilman Bill de Blasio who received 32 percent of the vote and former public advocate Mark Green, who earned about 31 percent.

    In the comptroller’s race, John C. Liu, a councilman from Queens, received 38 percent, while David Yassky, a councilman from Brooklyn, took 30 percent.

    The race between de Blasio and Green has been especially bitter. Green has linked his rival to the scandalized housing group ACORN, while De Blasio has accused Green of trying "to do anything to get back in office."

    The city comptroller runoff has not fared much better. Yassky has questioned Liu's honesty, and in turn, Liu has called his opponent a "three-headed Yassky" for changing positions on key issues like term limits.

    All of this seems pretty silly considering almost nobody is paying attention. In fact, the Times noted that only about 10 percent of registered Democrats will show up at polling stations that will be open tomorrow from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

    The waste of money is more magnified by the fact that the four candidates competing in the election can legally spend almost $8 million during their primary campaign.

    "It’s awful,”  Betsy Gotbaum, who was nominated for public advocate after receiving less than 40 percent of the vote in the 2001 primary, won in the runoff and was victorious in the general election, told the Times. “What makes it so awful is that you have to raise a lot of money in that little time.”

    In New York, where Democrats outnumber Republicans six to one, whoever wins the Democratic primary is pretty much assured victory in the general election in November.