de Blasio v. Thompson: The Specter of 2001 Haunts the Democrats, and, Musings Over Afro-American Voter Preferences.

About 1,000 votes, less than two tenths of one percent separate a de Blasio win from an October 1st runoff with Thompson.

Thompson would have an uphill fight,

* de Blasio won in almost every demographic segment
* de Blasio won the Afro-American vote
* The Quinn, Liu, and Weiner votes may stay at home
* Thompson has to raise dollars to finance a three-week campaign

On the other hand in a race with a much smaller turnout the core constituencies will decide the election, if the UFT remains firmly in Thompson’s camp and he can make a stronger appeal to Afro-American voters, perhaps, just perhaps, he can prevail.

The party leadership would prefer if Thompson would bow out and enthusiastically support de Blasio. They fear, and it is a real fear, that in a tough three-week campaign the winner will be damaged as the Republican, Lhota, waits on the sidelines, raising dollars, and will continue the bashing in the final weeks heading up to November 5th, a repeat of the debacle in 2001.

The head of the Board of Regents, Merryl Tisch and a co-chair of the Thompson campaign, in a cogently worded statement, “I think the people have spoken. They’ve spoken decisively,” jumped ship.

The Board of Elections will begin to count the affidavit and absentee ballots on Friday, a process that could take a week. The affidavit ballots are paper ballots cast by voters, i. e., if the machine wasn’t working or the name of the voter wasn’t in the registration book. Absentee ballots are mail ballots that must be requested through an onerous process. Candidate representatives are present and the ongoing tallies are public.

The Democratic Party establishment, no matter who they supported, would love if Thompson graciously bowed out and vigorously stood hand in hand with de Blasio. After all, better a Democrat, any Democrat, than a Republican in Gracie Mansion.

The biggest player is the UFT, the teachers’ union was the driving force behind the Thompson campaign, millions of union dollars, and thousands upon thousands of feet on the ground.

Will they continue to support, and importantly, fund, a Thompson run?

Union members, their families and friends weren’t enough.

The deciders in the campaign were Judge Shira Scheindlin, Michael Bloomberg and the Afro-American voters.

The “stop and frisk” lawsuit had been slowly wending its way through the court for years and the city had reduced the number of “stop and frisk” stops significantly. In “usual” circumstances the judge would have worked with the parties to settle the suit without any admission of wrong-doing, it is commonplace in this type of lawsuit. Mayor Bloomberg was adamant, as he was in the school closing lawsuit and every other challenge to his authority, be it the teacher evaluation plan, or labor contracts. He must win. The result was a decision finding that “stop and frisk” violated citizens’ civil rights, a direct slap at what the Mayor saw as the key to lowering rates of violent crime. Whether or not “stop and frisk” has reduced crime is a topic for another blog; the Mayor chose to “fight the fight,” to slam the judge after her decision, to appeal her decision, and place the issue in the forefront of the mayoral campaign.

The experts, who, as it turns out, are not so expert, looked at the 90% plus turnout of Afro-American voters for Obama and projected significant votes for Thompson in the Afro-American community. The last numbers for the Afro-American vote: 44% de Blasio, 41% Thompson. Scholars will be parsing the numbers for months, for me, the bottom line, Afro-American voters were far more sophisticated than the so-called experts assumed.

de Blasio seized the “stop and frisk” issue while Thompson stayed the course, he was the “middle of the road” candidate, de Blasio to the left “(Tale of Two Cities”) and Quinn of the right (“Bloomberg lite”).

George Yancey, in a powerful essay in the NY Times Opinionator blog writes,

Black bodies in America continue to be reduced to their surfaces and to stereotypes that are constricting and false, that often force those black bodies to move through social spaces in ways that put white people at ease. We fear that our black bodies incite an accusation. We move in ways that help us to survive the procrustean gazes of white people. We dread that those who see us might feel the irrational fear to stand their ground rather than “finding common ground,” a reference that was made by Bernice King as she spoke about the legacy of her father at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

The white gaze is also hegemonic, historically grounded in material relations of white power: it was deemed disrespectful for a black person to violate the white gaze by looking directly into the eyes of someone white. The white gaze is also ethically solipsistic: within it only whites have the capacity of making valid moral judgments.

“Stop and Frisk” was not simply a policeman stopping you on the street, it stood for all the indignities you had faced, the disrespectful asides, the assumptions about your abilities, the racial stereotyping, a lifetime of “white gazes” symbolized by a mayor that you had come to despise.

To put it simply: you voted for the philosophically blackest candidate who happened to be white.

Hopefully the power brokers in whatever is the modern equivalent of the “smoke-filled” room will figure out a respectful way to convince Thompson to toss in the towel and endorse the other Bill.

The Democrats cannot afford to risk another 2001 debacle.

The Republican dollars will flood into the city supporting the Lhota campaign and in spite of 6:1 advantage in numbers on paper the Democratic candidate, probably de Blasio, will face a well-funded tough opponent in a nasty battle for the crown of the Big Apple.

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6 responses to “de Blasio v. Thompson: The Specter of 2001 Haunts the Democrats, and, Musings Over Afro-American Voter Preferences.

  1. the mets stand a better chance of reaching post-season play than thompson has of winning the possible run-off. thompson must withdraw immediately and help de blasio get elected. can’t risk lhota (guiliani lite) in city hall.

  2. “the mets stand a better chance of reaching post-season play than thompson has of winning the possible run-off”.

    That’s not so very clear… It’s occurred that runoffs in NYC have been won by candidates who were not the highest vote-getters in the first round free-for-all. (I know, we’d all rather forget Mark Green.) And broad as B. d. B’s support was, I don’t recall he got a majority in any of the various categories. Also, a candidate who’s been ahead in the weeks leading up to the first round is likely to pick upho the votes of wavering supporters of candidates further down in the “pack”, while that’s less true of candidates whom the polls show doing less well, so it’s likely that, in a runoff, more of the approximately 40% who voted for neither Bill would would choose B.T.

    But, in any case, the intention of a runoff is to enfranchise voters who supported unsuccessful candidates in the first round, and to avoid parties’ fielding candidates who have the support of well less than a majority of their party members.

    So, the idea of waiting to get more clarity of how much support everyone really has is a democratic one; after all, it would be nice if the absentees, including servuce men and women and the infirm, could feel that someone was considering their votes.

    Lastly, “The Quinn, Liu, and Weiner votes may stay at home” seems unlikely; if they voted in the primary, they’re probably pretty committed voters and party members, and this wasn’t a primary in which the Quinn, Liu, and Weiner voters were generally so antagonized by the opther factions that they’d prefer Lhota to their second choice Democrats.

    I think the case here for Thompson withdrawing is somewhat overstated..

  3. fed up with Unity

    I knew you Unity Caucus guys would turn on a dime on Thompson. No surprise here.

  4. I agree with Peter Goodman and “Bullet” Bob Gruber. DeBlasio is the man! He dwarfs his Republican opponent in vision as well as in stature. The UFT should follow the Tisch precedent and. to quote my mother of blessed memory, “put our tuchus oifn tish.”

  5. You say teachers and their families weren’t enough to help Thompson win the primary. Most teachers I know voted for DeBlasio. We understand that Michael Mulgrew & Co. don’t have our best interests at heart. Mulgrew continues to be tone deaf when it comes to the concerns of the people he’s supposed to be representing.

    • roma giudetti: When you write about “most teachers I know…” are we to understand that to include a broad and representative sample?

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