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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

Post-primary postures are shifting quickly

Mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg during

Mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg during the opening ceremony of the 2013 US Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Aug. 26, 2013) Credit: Getty Images

The postures of prominent figures have shifted sharply since primary day, altering in key ways New York City's campaign dialogue.

Suddenly, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has turned silent on the subject of his successor. For weeks, in person and through aides, he had warned of the deluge that could follow his departure. In particular, he slammed Democratic-nominee-to-be Bill de Blasio as threatening public safety and even "racist."

After the vote, Bloomberg wouldn't elaborate. "I said I'm not going to endorse anybody. You'll have to talk to the pundits," he told reporters Monday.

As abruptly as Bloomberg muted himself, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo turned vocal. On Monday, Cuomo appeared at City Hall, for the first time since 2010, to endorse de Blasio, to proclaim Democratic unity, and to honor runner-up Bill Thompson for conceding defeat.

For months, the governor concentrated his public appearances outside the city and declined to state a preferred candidate. Two weeks ago, he denied "any plans to get involved in the New York City mayor's race."

Remember that, in last year's presidential contest, an aide to Republican candidate Mitt Romney found himself in hot water for candidly comparing the transition from primary to general-election campaign tactics with erasing an Etch a Sketch toy in order to draw a new picture.

Well, politicians' sound bites do have a way of changing in a hurry.

Months ago, De Blasio made a key point in mayoral forums of bashing the alliance between his rival, Council Speaker Christine Quinn, and Bloomberg.

But Tuesday, de Blasio accepted her endorsement, and Quinn -- who had said two weeks ago that New Yorkers "just couldn't trust" the public advocate -- told reporters she trusts de Blasio.

For his part, Thompson said in Harlem over the weekend, "We want to see every vote counted," when asked about the prospect that de Blasio's share of the primary vote might dip below the 40 percent needed to avoid a runoff against the former city comptroller.

On Monday, Thompson -- with allies calling it extremely unlikely he'd make up enough ground in the recanvass to qualify for a runoff -- called the election "bigger than either one of us" as he endorsed de Blasio. The target of his ire changed from de Blasio to the Board of Elections' slow counts.

The primary also scrambled priorities outside the city's dominant Democratic Party.

Republican candidate Joe Lhota met Tuesday with leaders of District Council 37, the city's largest municipal labor group -- which supported Comptroller John Liu in the Democratic primary and later in the day announced for de Blasio.

Lhota's visit, of course, was not the gesture of a GOP primary candidate but of a nominee seeking a make-or-break expansion of his appeal for the Nov. 5 contest.

With major-party mayoral candidates now gunning for the big prize, part of the spotlight suddenly shifts to alternatives, and whether they will have an impact.

The Spanish-language daily El Diario Tuesday portrayed the contest on its front page as a three-way race among de Blasio, Lhota and former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion -- who since February has been the Independence Party candidate but gleaned little attention.

Long linked to Bloomberg, the minor party's place in local politics changes as well.


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