Primary Day In New York


thompsonLow turnout is expected today in local primaries throughout New York State, including the sleepy Democratic race for mayor in New York City, where only two candidates are in the running. The city is also set to effectively choose a comptroller, public advocate and Manhattan prosecutor, races where theDemocratic nominee is strongly favored in November.In the New York City mayoral contest, Comptroller William Thompson Jr. and City Councilman Tony Avella are the last men standing, after billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg convinced the City Council to extend term limits so he could run again.

The mayoral primary is usually a crowded and raucous affair in New York City, where Republicans are outnumbered by a ratio of 5 to 1, but would-be candidates dropped out or changed their plans after Bloomberg announced he was running again.

The popular mayor is not registered with a party and was not competing in a primary today, but the Democrats have largely focused on attacking him instead of each other.

Public opinion polls have shown Thompson ahead of Avella by as much as 30 points.

Avella admitted his odds of success were long in getting the nomination for mayor against the better-financed and more well-known Thompson, but he is not giving up hope.

“It’s a low turnout and there’s a huge number of undecided voters. I think it’s still possible,” Avella said.

For his part, Thompson has run a low key campaign, saving his resources for the expected battle with Bloomberg’s thick wallet, which is already saturating the airwaves with commercials for November’s vote.

“I’m not going to say that I’ve been looking past the primary, but I have been looking forward to taking, you know, to the November elections,” Thompson said.

“For the first time in a long time, New Yorkers aren’t looking at the primary. They’re looking at the general election and we have six weeks to go,” said Bloomberg consultant Hank Sheinkopf.

Bloomberg has name recognition, money and a high approval rating, but the Democrats hope he’s vulnerable on the term limits issue, the popular law changed under his watch so he could run for a third term.

“I think the people of New York still are angry at Mike Bloomberg for changing term limits at the last minute without going back to them,” Thompson said.

“I think our campaign is the only opportunity to beat Mike Bloomberg, the real David against Goliath race,” Avella said.

Voters in Queens are going to the polls for a special election to fill an Assembly seat vacated by Anthony Seminerio, who pleaded guilty to a federal corruption charge.

Fellow Democrat Mike Miller of Glendale, founder of an organization that serves adults with developmental disabilities, has strong party support against Republican Donna Marie Caltabiano of Woodhaven, who runs a senior center.

The most exciting citywide election in New York City is shaping up to be the race for comptroller, who is the chief financial officer of the city, analyzing the budget and auditing city agencies. The comptroller is also in charge of the $80 billion municipal pension system.

The winning Democrat is favored to win the general election, since there is no strong Republican challenger.

With four candidates – Melinda Katz, John Liu and David Weprin, and David Yassky of Brooklyn – and public opinion polls finding a majority of registered voters undecided, the comptroller’s race could be headed for a runoff.

If no candidate gets 40 percent of the vote, a runoff would be held.

Another citywide race likely to be decided by the primary is the public advocate post. Four Democrats are running for the job of City Hall watchdog. The public advocate is also next in line to take over if something happens to the mayor.

The polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

{WCBS-TV/Noam Newscenter}