City Comptroller William Thompson received the endorsement of Reverend Al Sharpton Saturday in his bid to become mayor.
Thompson, a Democrat, will be challenging Mayor Michael Bloomberg for the post.
During a speech in Bedford-Stuyvesant Saturday, Sharpton noted the weak economy and said the city is in need of a crisis manager.
"It is my conclusion that the best leader at this time, and the person that can bring this city together and the one that can restore a sense of vision and urgency at this hour is William C. Thompson," Sharpton said.
Sharpton also said that City Hall needs someone who understands the plight of "regular New Yorkers." Thompson's campaign has focused on the fact that Bloomberg, a billionaire, is out of touch with the needs of lower and middle-class residents.
"We need somebody at City Hall who is going to fight for all New Yorkers," said Thompson.
The reverend has forged a close working relationship with the Bloomberg administration.
"I've had a cordial relationship with Mayor Bloomberg since he was there," said Sharpton. "But this is not about cordiality; this is about crisis. This is about how we get this city back again working, how we get schools working, how we get parents participating, how we deal with the social fabric of this city coming apart."
Bloomberg has a wide lead in the polls, and one even shows him with a slight lead over Thompson among black voters.
Bloomberg has also picked up some high-profile endorsements from national African-American leaders, specifically Newark Mayor Cory Booker and Washington, D.C Mayor Adrian Fenty.
But Thompson was dismissive of their support.
"If they are able to vote in New York City, then the mayor has two votes to start with. If not, I guess he doesn't," said the mayoral candidate.
The Bloomberg campaign declined to comment on Sharpton's endorsement.
The real prize for both, of course, would be the backing of President Barack Obama. In his speech before the NAACP on Thursday, he mentioned Thompson and Bloomberg by name.
Many New Yorkers who spoke with NY1 said they think Sharpton's endorsement of Thompson will boost his campaign. But several also indicated that the mayor's chief political rival still has a long way to go.
"I'm not sure who [Bill Thompson] is," said one New Yorker at the park where Thompson and Sharpton were campaigning.
"I saw Al Sharpton. Oh, that was the other guy who was with him," said another.
Their responses are just another sign of the uphill battle facing Bloomberg's challenger.