Just as I was proclaiming yesterday morning that the quasi-general election campaign was underway between Bill de Blasio and Joe Jhota, Bill Thompson removed that "quasi" by quitting the Democratic primary race. Thompson insists he's out -- even if somehow he manages to get into a runoff with de Blasio whenever the city's Board of Elections gets done counting all the votes from last week's primary.
Most interesting was the front-and-center role that Gov. Cuomo had in yesterday's "unity press conference" with Thompson and de Blasio. Oddly, it was Cuomo who was the final speaker in the event that was about the mayor's race – not Cuomo's re-election campaign for next year.
No matter. The tableau the Democrats are presenting is remarkably different from the mess they had in 2001, the last election when it seemed that their party could reclaim City Hall. Then, Fernando Ferrer wanted to bury the hatchet in his rival Mark Green's back and all but sat on his hands when voters headed to the polls and elected Michael Bloomberg. (Ferrer even had breakfast with Bloomberg the day after the election.)
"There's nothing more beautiful than Democratic unity,'' gushed de Blasio, slighting Botticelli's Venus, Michelangelo's David, and long mid-day naps.
De Blasio has every right to be pumped. The lanky candidate has captured the city's Zeitgeist and is our political Rubik's Cube; he only must hope that New Yorkers like playing with him for another seven weeks.
Lhota, meanwhile, must find a way to embrace the spotlight that is making its way toward him. Yesterday, he was talking about which candidate will do a better job getting the trash picked up. While that might be a good debate to have in front of a newspaper editorial board, that's not going to cut it with New Yorkers who seem more enthralled with a teen-ager's Afro and talk of change. Making the trains run on time might be an ideal trait in a mayor; it's not a great boast for a candidate in a city where most of the trains are already making it to the station.