Tuesday, October 21, 2014

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Leading Public Advocate Candidates Face Follow-Up Fight

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The Democratic race for public advocate continues for another two weeks, as Brooklyn Councilman Bill de Blasio and former Public Advocate Mark Green said they were ready for the runoff primary. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.

Frontrunner Mark Green expected a night of political rebirth Tuesday, but instead he failed to capture the 40 percent of votes needed to avoid a runoff for public advocate, a position he served for two terms from 1994 to 2001.

Instead, Green came in second in the Democratic primary to Brooklyn Councilman Bill de Blasio, who delivered what sounded like a victory speech.

"I have a question for everyone here this evening. Are you ready for a runoff?" asked de Blasio.

De Blasio earned 33 percent of the vote Tuesday, compared to 31 percent for Green. Queens Councilman Eric Gioia, civil rights attorney Norman Siegel and Brooklyn lawyer Imtiaz Syed each failed to break 20 percent.

Green, who narrowly lost the mayoral election to Michael Bloomberg in 2001, had more name recognition than his opponents and enjoyed a healthy lead in the polls. Yet he insisted the result was no disappointment.

"I thought from the beginning when you had five candidates divided into 100 percent, it was very hard to get to 40. I always expected a runoff," said Green.

Meanwhile, Gioia and Siegel thanked their supporters but vowed to continue to make a difference for the city.

"There are too many people in this city who struggle. There are too many people who are vulnerable. There are too many people who are in a forgotten middle class," said Gioia. "The issues we have stood up for and fought for mean more than this one election."

"It's always important to fight the good fight, and even if you don't win in a particular race, that doesn't mean the fight wasn't worth doing and that the fight doesn't continue," said Siegel.

The result sets up what could be a bruising two-week showdown. De Blasio challenged Green to 10 debates over that span, and both men were already taking shots at their runoff opponent.

"The fact is, Mark has not been involved in the last eight years and I don't think he's in touch with the problems we face today," said de Blasio. "Today we need new ideas. We need new approaches, new strategies to make our city better."

"This campaign for public advocate and the future of New York starts all over again tomorrow in a contest between a lifelong consumer advocate and a life long political insider. I can't wait," said Green.

Whoever wins the runoff on September 29 is the overwhelming favorite to beat Republic candidate Alex Zablocki in the general election in November.

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