The city’s powerful teachers’ union voted today to endorse Bill de Blasio for mayor–after snubbing him during the Democratic primary in favor of Bill Thompson.
“Mr. Thompson has asked us to support Mr. de Blasio because he knows–as well as Mr. de Blasio knows–the city can no longer afford to go in the direction which it has been going for way too long,” United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew told reporters gathered tonight at the union’s Lower Manhattan headquarters after its delegate assembly had formerly voted for the second time this election season.
Endorsing Bill de Blasio was a move fraught with risk in May.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn was the vaunted front-runner in the mayor’s race, according to the polls. It was widely assumed that former Comptroller Bill Thompson, the only black candidate in the race, would consolidate the minority vote.
But the influential healthcare workers’ union went with Mr. de Blasio, the city’s public advocate, who now stands as the all-but-assured Democratic nominee for mayor. Mr. de Blasio repaid their faith by making potential hospital closures a centerpiece of his campaign: in July, he was even arrested for protesting the closures of two Brooklyn hospitals, a move that gave him needed publicity.
Even though he finished a distant fourth in last week’s Democratic primary, Comptroller John Liu was surprisingly upbeat yesterday.
Speaking at a Manhattan “volunteer appreciation party”–he has four more such parties scheduled today–the failed mayoral candidate told Politicker he was ready to look outside of politics for his next gig.
Republican mayoral contender Joe Lhota congratulated Bill de Blasio on securing his party’s expected nomination this afternoon and said he’s looking forward to a more mature and vigorous debate.
After weeks of being attacked by his ex-Republican challenger billionaire John Catsimatidis–most recently for saying he would not have shut down subway service to save two stray kittens on the tracks–Mr. Lhota said he was ready to go one-on-one against a candidate who has a dramatically different vision for the City of New York.
The city’s powerful teachers’ union just can’t seem to get mayoral races right.
When the United Federation of Teachers offered its coveted endorsement to Bill Thompson in June, it was seen as a game changer for the candidate. But the union’s efforts came up short yet again, with Mr. Thompson conceding the contest today after placing a distant second.
This is not a new situation for the UFT, which chose to sit out the 2005 and 2009 races, and–as its critics like to point out–last backed a winning candidate in 1989.