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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

NYC Primary Day losers go beyond the candidates

Mayoral hopeful Bill Thompson speaks to a sea

Mayoral hopeful Bill Thompson speaks to a sea of supporters, friends and family as they wait for election results. (Sept. 10, 2013) Credit: Nancy Borowick

Any unofficial list of Primary Day losers in New York City must include more than just the candidates defeated at the polls.

Reserve a spot for the United Federation of Teachers, pending final ballot counts in the Democratic mayoral primary.

UFT president Michael Mulgrew said in June, "We're about making a mayor, making the winner." When his union tapped Bill Thompson over second-choice Bill de Blasio, Mulgrew predicted victory. Wednesday, Mulgrew said in a statement: "We are awaiting the final count."

In the city's last incumbent-free mayoral race, in 2001, the union went zero-for-three in the primary, runoff and general election. Maybe it's time to re-examine that "powerful UFT" cliche -- even if Thompson makes a runoff and pulls off an upset in the next three weeks.

The trio best dubbed the Sex Scandal Squad became the most obvious losers as Democrats Anthony Weiner, Eliot Spitzer and Vito Lopez met defeat in primaries for mayor, comptroller, and councilman.

Charles J. Hynes endured a different kind of loss. He was dislodged as Brooklyn district attorney -- after 24 years -- by Democrat Kenneth Thompson.

Of the mayoral candidates, Christine Quinn had the hardest fall of them all. She led in early polls to the point where some operatives peddled her as the inevitable winner.

Also qualified for the loser list: the consulting firm SDK Knickerbocker, formerly hired by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, which handled Quinn's third-place campaign (though it picked up a win when client Scott Stringer beat Spitzer).

It was a Quinn-lose situation in more ways than one. Notably, Quinn becomes the third consecutive council speaker to run for mayor and finish poorly in the Democratic primary. The others were Peter Vallone Sr. and Gifford Miller, whose candidacies also looked good on paper until tested. "As speaker, you're carrying every member's baggage," said a former speaker's aide. Quinn also joins Ruth Messinger, Carol Bellamy and the late Bella Abzug among prominent women who ran for mayor and lost.

Since de Blasio's first-place finish marked a kind of Democratic rebuke of the lame-duck Bloomberg, the three-term mayor also loses. His magazine interview attacking de Blasio's campaign as racist for displaying his bi-racial family was perhaps exceeded in churlishness only by Weiner's flashing a middle-fingered parting salute to the press.

Weiner, by the way, managed to make his wife, Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, a loser-by-association when he brought her into the limelight of what proved to be his circuslike sideshow.

In an odd way, the Republicans' November candidate for comptroller, John L. Burnett, also comes up a loser with Spitzer's defeat. Imagine the rush of contributions and party-crossing endorsements he could have enjoyed from people and organizations bent on keeping the ex-governor privatized.

This year's Democrat-turned-Republican billionaire candidate, John Catsimatidis, spent more than $4 million running for mayor.

In one ad he attacked GOP rival Joe Lhota for favoring legalization of marijuana, saying, "What mayoral candidate wants to create more pot heads?"

But on Tuesday, it was the "Cats" candidacy that went up in smoke.


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