Democratic leaders “moved swiftly on Wednesday to prevent a combative sequel to the party’s primary for mayor, as union officials and party leaders rallied around” Public Advocate Bill de Blasio (D) and former Comptroller Bill Thompson (D) “to end his quest for a runoff election. On a day of back-room maneuvering and deal-making, Mr. Thompson’s own inner circle appeared divided over how, or even whether, to proceed, with his campaign. Mr. Thompson vowed to press on,” but Thompson campaign chairwoman Merryl Tisch said de Blasio had won a “clear victory” and suggested the race was over. Tisch: “I don’t think there’s much appetite within the Democratic Party to have a fight here.” Al Sharpton, a longtime Thompson ally, “encouraged him to give up his campaign, and an influential labor group, the Hotel Trades Council, endorsed Mr. de Blasio.”
But Thompson “found some measure of hope in the uncertain election outcome. With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Mr. de Blasio had won 40.3 percent of the vote, just over the 40 percent required by law to avoid a runoff, but there were more than 16,000 paper ballots, some still arriving by mail, that could push Mr. de Blasio below that threshold when they are counted next week.” Thompson: “I want to make sure that every voice is heard, that every vote is counted.” (New York Times)
“Sticking by Mr. Thompson on Wednesday was the United Federation of Teachers, the powerful municipal union that threw their support to him.” (Wall Street Journal)
LONG WAIT: “The counting process will begin on Friday, when the Board of Elections will double-check the count of votes cast on lever machines at polling places. Then, on Monday, the board will begin tallying paper ballots, although it is not clear exactly how many ballots there will be to count.” (New York Times)
“Already some 19,000 valid absentee ballots have been received, and they will continue rolling in until next Tuesday. This means it likely won’t be until Wednesday at the earliest that all votes are counted, and we know whether Bill de Blasio indeed clears the 40 percent threshold.” (NY1)
JOE’S NEW FRIENDS: Many business executives fear that de Blasio’s proposals “could jeopardize New York’s economic progress of the past two decades.” This concern could benefit former MTA Chairman Joe Lhota (R), who “has accused his potential opponent of advancing an agenda that has ‘historically brought our city to the brink of bankruptcy and rampant civic decay.’” (Wall Street Journal)
Lhota’s campaign is “preparing to launch a national fundraising” effort. One source: “There will be a national excitement because Joe is a different type of Republican.” Sources said that “New Yorkers for Proven Leadership,” a pro-Lhota PAC, “will begin airing television ads to promote Lhota as soon as de Blasio officially clinches the Democratic nomination.” (New York Post)
Lhota also “plans to reach out to the Rev. Al Sharpton and create a Democrats for Lhota organization. … Aides said that Lhota intends to reach out to Sharpton — a gesture that his former boss, Rudy Giuliani, refused to do during his eight years as mayor.” Sharpton spokeswoman Rachel Noerdlinger said her boss would be open to meeting with Lhota. (New York Daily News)
— Kevin Brennan
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"The FBI rejected a recent White House request to publicly knock down media reports about communications between Donald Trump's associates and Russians known to US intelligence during the 2016 presidential campaign, multiple US officials briefed on the matter tell CNN. But a White House official said late Thursday that the request was only made after the FBI indicated to the White House it did not believe the reporting to be accurate."
Sen. Susan Collins, who sits on the Intelligence Committee, "said on Wednesday she's open to using a subpoena to investigate President Donald Trump's tax returns for potential connections to Russia." She said the committee is also open to subpoenaing Trump himself. "This is a counter-intelligence operation in many ways," she said of Russia's interference. "That's what our committee specializes in. We are used to probing in depth in this area."
"Top lawyers who helped the Obama White House craft and hold to rules of conduct believe President Donald Trump and his staff will break ethics norms meant to guard against politicization of the government — and they’ve formed a new group to prepare, and fight. United to Protect Democracy, which draws its name from a line in President Barack Obama’s farewell address that urged his supporters to pick up where he was leaving off, has already raised a $1.5 million operating budget, hired five staffers and has plans to double that in the coming months." Meanwhile, NPR has launched a "Trump Ethics Monitor" to track the resolution of ten ethics-related promises that the president has made.