By Heather Grossmann
MIDTOWN — Narrow win? What narrow win?
The morning after the election, Michael Bloomberg sounded more like a mayor with a strong mandate from voters than one who spent $100 million on a third term bid only to squeak out a 5 point win over Comptroller William Thompson.
"I don't think the margin of victory was narrow," Bloomberg told reporters in Bensonhurst, where he also thanked voters.
He said when the Yankees win their 27th World Series, all anyone will remember is that they won, not how many games it took.
"I'm just honored that not the plurality, but a majority of New Yorkers said keep up the hard work," the mayor said.
The results, amid abysmal voter turnout, were a surprise to New Yorkers and political pundits expecting a blowout for the mayor, who spent upwards of $100 million — some reports peg the number closer to $150 million — and who consistently had a double-digit lead on Thompson in the polls.
The margin is far short of the voter mandate a mayor seeking a third term traditionally hopes to get.
“Sometimes a win is a loss,” Village Voice journalist Tom Robbins said on NY1, explaining that given the funds spent and the turmoil over term limits, the margin the mayor won by was not acceptable.
Early numbers showed that as little as a million New Yorkers turned out to vote in the elections, leading pundits to speculate that about resentment over term-limit extensions and what became a bitter campaign between the two candidates.
Despite the unexpected nail-biter, two of the city's major publications had no problem declaring an early emphatic victory for Bloomberg.
With 52 percent of the vote counted, and the mayor at 49 per cent just one point ahead of Thompson, the New York Times declared a victory for Bloomberg before 10 p.m., while the New York Post said the mayor had steamrolled his way to a "threepeat."
Neither publication seemed to be able to rectify the numbers with their assertions.
Bloomberg’s gala event at the Sheraton in Midtown didn’t miss a beat, with free-flowing beverages and a live band getting the jubilant crowd on their feet and dancing.
The last third-term mayor, Ed Koch, along with comedian Jimmy Fallon, activist Rev. Al Sharpton and several city pols joined the 2,500 party-goers in toasting Bloomberg, who took the stage at midnight — a full three hours after he arrived at the event — to thank his supporters and speak about what he hopes to accomplish over the next four years.
“I’m committed to working twice as hard in the next four years as I did in the previous eight,” an animated Bloomberg said. “In these tough times, we’re going to show that we can keep outperforming the rest of the country.”
The mayor immediately brought up his rival, saying the comptroller was a good man whom he enjoyed working with. Bloomberg even led the crowd — somewhat forcefully — in a round of applause for Thompson.
He went on to say that in his fourth term, everything from public schools, to affordable housing and immigration reform would see even bigger improvements than in his previous administration.
“You ain’t seen nothin’ yet,” an ebullient Bloomberg shouted to hoots and hollers from his supporters.
Aside from a brief frenzy early in the evening when screens showed Thompson trailing Bloomberg by only 1 percentage point, the comptroller’s campaign was a comparatively mellow event.
But even after Thompson had conceded defeat, saying that he had called Bloomberg to congratulate him on his victory, supporters and even the candidate himself seemed more humbled than disappointed by the results of the race.
Rowdy calls of “Thank you Bill!” and cheers from the audience frequently interrupted the comptroller as he addressed the crowd, but he was determined that his words be heard, speaking with a strength and emotion that were glaringly absent during his campaign.
“Thank you my friends, and thank you New York City,” a smiling Thompson told the crowd. “This campaign was about standing tall and strong and never backing down in the face of a formidable challenge.
"I know this campaign had to be waged.”
While the numbers in the mayoral election were much closer than expected, other city elections turned out just as predicted.
Councilman Bill de Blasio officially became the city’s next public advocate after beating our former public advocate Mark Green in the primary runoff.
Councilman John Liu will replace Thompson as comptroller in 2010. Liu will be the city’s first Asian-American to hold citywide office.
The Democratic candidates for City Council won in each of Manhattan’s ten districts.
And, for the first time in 35 years, following a hotly-contested primary, Manhattan has a new district attorney — congratulations, Cy Vance Jr.