Joseph Lhota and Bill de Blasio sought to define themselves Saturday against the legacy of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, looking past a mayoral primary whose results have still not been finalized to the likely general election matchup between the two candidates.
Appearing before a sympathetic audience at the Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network in Harlem, de Blasio did not mention his prospective opponent at all. Nor did he mention the mayor by name but reiterated his support for several initiatives Bloomberg opposed, including paid sick days and higher taxes on the city's wealthy.
Instead of the business-friendly policies that Bloomberg said would benefit the entire city, he pushed such causes as union organizing for low-paid fast-food workers. "A mayor should be doing that, should be standing by working people who are organizing," he said. "It's in the interests of the entire city."
Later, on MSNBC's morning talk show "Up," Lhota left de Blasio largely unmentioned except to say that the Democrat's proposed tax plan would raise less money than he himself could save by careful budgeting.
Lhota, who worked under Mayor Rudy Giuliani and chaired the Metropolitan Transportation Authority while Bloomberg held office, said his victory would not mean a continuation of either administration, citing the need for a more "open" and "participatory" government.
He described himself as an independent-minded Republican whose support of abortion rights and same-sex marriage, like Bloomberg's, are at odds with many in the national party, and praised the mayor's advocacy of gun control laws he said would stem the flow of illegal firearms into the city.
Lhota secured the Republican nomination last week, but it's not yet clear whether de Blasio, the current public advocate and leading Democratic candidate, will reach the 40 percent threshold he needs to avoid a runoff against second-place finisher former comptroller Bill Thompson. Absentee ballots will be counted Monday.
Valerie Vazquez, a spokeswoman for the City Board of Elections, said she could not estimate how long it will take to count 78,000 paper ballots.
Because the runoff is set for Oct. 1, Board of Elections workers will be putting in extra hours she said.