Weiner Concedes To Ferrer
09/14/2005 10:51 AM
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Fifteen hours after the polls closed with uncertainty about whether there would be a Democratic primary runoff in the race for mayor, second-place finisher Anthony Weiner conceded to Fernando Ferrer Wednesday.
Weiner made the formal announcement outside his childhood home in Park Slope, Brooklyn.
When the polls closed Tuesday night, Ferrer appeared to fall just short of the 40 percent needed to avoid a runoff, with absentee ballots yet to be counted.
However, the second place finisher conceded today, saying he's pulling out for the sake of the Democratic Party.
"There is a time for coming together for working people. This is the time to put aside my opportuniy for a runoff campaign to highlight our differences and step aside so Freddy Ferrer, with his long record of service, his steadfast commitment to all New Yorkers, can quickly begin to make his case against Republican Mike Bloomberg," said Weiner.
Earlier in the day during a campaign stop in Harlem, Weiner had suggested he was in favor of a runoff and gave no indication that he would concede at that point. However, Weiner insisted nobody twisted his arm to drop out.
“This wasn’t a decision that people urged upon me. I think it’s the right thing to do,” said the congressman. “I think it’s right that we begin joining together right now. Under normal circumstances, two more weeks of campaigning would be two more weeks of opportunity. But when you're running against a billionaire like Republican Mike Bloomberg, who has showed he is going to pay whatever it takes, we have to start getting behind Freddy Ferrer right away.”
Shortly after Weiner's concession speech, Ferrer issued a statement saying, "Democrats were blessed this year to have as spirited and engaging a campaigner as Congressman Weiner, who brought new ideas and new people into the party. He should be proud of the race he ran. I respect him immensely, and look forward to campaigning with him, and a united Democratic party including Virginia Fields and Gifford Miller."
Weiner's supporters say they back his decision.
“It bodes well for the Democrats,” said Uniformed Firefighters Association President Stephen Cassidy. “I thought it was a sign of leadership on his part, a difficult decision, and we support him 100 percent.”
Weiner now goes back to Congress. He's up for reelection next year, but given his strong showing in this year’s race for mayor and his being a party builder, his political future is looking bright.
“I'm very proud of what he's done to date and what he'll do in the future,” said Morton Weiner, the congressman’s father. “He's doing what's best for himself and what’s best for the city. As a family we're all so proud of him, and we hope he continues whatever good work he wants to do.”
Ferre's three former rivals will all stand behind him at a unity rally on Thursday.
Election officials say after all the absentee ballots are calculated, which could take until next week, there may still be a runoff by law if Ferrer does not get that 40 percent.
Ferrer received 39.95 percent of the vote in Tuesday's Democratic mayoral primary, just a tiny sliver under the 40 percent needed to avoid a runoff.
With 100 percent of the city's precincts reporting, Weiner tallied 28.81 percent of the vote to Ferrer's 39.95. Early returns had Ferrer holding up to 43 percent of the vote, but he slowly slipped below the 40 percent threshold as the night wore on.
Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields and City Council Speaker Gifford Miller, meanwhile, finished well behind the top two candidates. Fields garnered 15 percent of the vote, while Miller captured 10 percent.
As for the incumbent, Mayor Michael Bloomberg had little reaction to Ferrer's defeat of Weiner. He says he has to concentrate on his campaign and leave the Democrats to deal with themselves.
“We're doing the right things, and the numbers will speak for themselves,” Bloomberg said Wednesday. “What I've got to do is not get involved in that. I'm going to focus on telling the story and explain to people what we've done and how we're going to continue it.”
Board of Elections officials say turnout was very light for the primary.
Uncertainty and confusion surrounding the possibility of a runoff is nothing new for Democratic primaries.
In 1997, then-Manhattan Borough President Ruth Messinger appeared headed for a runoff with the Reverend Al Sharpton in the Democratic primary for mayor. But eight days after the primary, recounts showed she had enough votes to earn the necessary 40 percent to avoid the runoff.
Sharpton sued to dispute the results, and while the lawsuit was unsuccessful, it slowed Messinger's momentum in her bid to unseat Rudolph Giuliani.
In 2001, Ferrer himself was involved in a runoff. Though he won the Democratic primary, he failed to get 40 percent.
He then went on to lose the runoff to then Public Advocate Mark Green. Green, of course, lost to Bloomberg in the general election.
Weiner will discuss his decision to concede with Road To City Hall host Dominic Carter tonight at 7 p.m. The interview will air again at 10:30 p.m.
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