Saturday, April 19, 2014

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NY1 Political Director Bob Hardt's daily look Inside City Hall.

NY1 ItCH: Looking At Thompson's Endgame And The Weiner Rule

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Bill Thompson may not be in it to win it – but he's still in the Democratic primary race. Sort of.

As (hopefully) well-rested Board of Elections workers today start to re-tabulate the counters on roughly 5,100 voting machines, Bill Thompson is channeling the "Never Say Die" mantra of the Al Gore campaign and vowing not to concede the mayoral primary to Bill de Blasio until every vote is counted. Well, that could take a while.

If de Blasio has more than 40 percent of the vote, there is no primary runoff on Oct. 1. According to Tuesday night's tally of the machines, de Blasio has 40.3 percent -- and according to the math of NY1's Bobby Cuza, de Blasio has a safety net of 2,113 votes. But there are roughly 68,000 new paper ballots that have to be counted starting on Monday. (Board officials initially said there were about 19,000 paper ballots so I'm not sure how that number exploded in two days.)

So Thompson is hoping that numbers skew his way – or at least against de Blasio. Under this weird new math, every vote that isn't for de Blasio is a victory for Thompson. But unless there was something wrong with the machine count, it seems highly unlikely that de Blasio will dip below the 40 percent mark based on the paper ballots.

Adding to the confusion is a law passed by the State Legislature in 2010 affectionately known as "The Weiner Rule." (Don't feel bad if you never heard of it. It was news to de Blasio until yesterday as well.)

Under the law, a candidate has three days until after the primary to bow out, canceling the election. Until this law was passed, a runoff primary would be held automatically if no candidate got 40 percent of the vote. But in the Democratic primary in 2005, Anthony Weiner tried to concede the primary to Fernando Ferrer even though it appeared that Ferrer didn't get the minimum 40 percent to win outright. But, election wags said, Weiner can't officially concede because of the law. Ultimately, none of this mattered because when all the votes were counted, Ferrer squeaked by over the 40 percent mark. But – unbeknownst to almost everyone – the runoff law was tinkered with three years ago, allowing Thompson until midnight to simply concede.

But no such concession seems likely. This process will drag out at least a few more days, allowing GOP nominee Joe Lhota to smile – or at least sleep this weekend. Nothing's ever easy in New York City -- especially when it comes to our elections.

Bob Hardt

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