With the Conservative Party backing Joe Lhota for mayor yesterday, the prospects are increasing that there could be a ballot crowded with candidates' names confronting voters in November.
While many believe that the Sept. 10th Democratic primary will essentially decide who the next mayor is, it's important to remember that since 1993, the November general election – with its Republican candidate – has determined the mayoralty. Although this may finally be the year where Democrats reclaim City Hall, there could be a few twists on the November ballot because of the ability of candidates to run on multiple party lines.
Lhota may be the early favorite to win the GOP nomination but millionaire John Catsimatidis still poses a threat in the primary to his candidacy. And trying to outmaneuver Lhota with his Conservative backing, Catsimatidis is pushing to revive the moribund Liberal Party through petitioning and run on that line in November. Not to be outdone, Lhota is planning on creating a new third-party line to run on in November. (Usually these party names are as American as apple pie like the "Education First Party" but maybe Lhota can tout his experience as the former head of the MTA and run on the "A Train" line.)
Further complicating the mix is the Working Families Party. Over the last 15 years, the pro-labor third party has essentially replaced the Liberal Party and become a real force in city politics. Party leaders will have to decide which of the five major Democrats to back. And there's a real chance that the Working Families Party candidate could be a different person than whoever wins the Democratic nomination – siphoning off some votes for that Democrat in November and creating an opening for a more conservative candidate like Lhota.
And then there's Adolfo Carrion, a former Bronx borough president and a former Democrat who's running on the Independence Party line in November. It's extremely likely that Carrion will be the only Latino candidate on the November ballot, which will likely guarantee him a certain number of votes – as well as support in The Bronx from those who remember him from his time in borough hall.
All of this means that should the Democratic nominee be weakened coming out of the September primary fight (and likely primary runoff), that there could be some unanticipated chaos in November. After all, what are voters to do when they see a "Thompson/Quinn/Lhota/Catsimatidis/Carrion" ballot?