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Democrats Dodge New York Family Feud, Mayoral Runoff Averted

New York City Democrats breathed a sigh of relief late Monday morning when Bill Thompson conceded the mayoral primary to Bill de Blasio, avoiding what could have been a nasty intraparty battle.

Thompson, 60, made his announcement on the steps of New York's City Hall in lower Manhattan, flanked by de Blasio and New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

"I am proud to stand here today and support Bill de Blasio to be the next mayor of the city of New York," said Thompson, a centrist former city comptroller who finished a distant second in last week's nine-candidate primary.

Said de Blasio, 52, the city's public advocate: "There is nothing more beautiful than Democratic unity, and thank you for it."

He will face Republican nominee Joseph Lhota, former deputy mayor in the Giuliani administration, in the November race. De Blasio is attempting to become the first Democrat in two decades to win the mayor's office — in a city where registered Democrats vastly outnumber Republicans, and where President Obama captured 81 percent of the vote in his 2012 re-election campaign.

Republican turned independent Michael Bloomberg is finishing up his third term, and has said he won't endorse a candidate to succeed him. Republican Rudy Giuliani served two terms prior to Bloomberg.

Thompson, who was the only African-American candidate in the primary, was making his second run for the mayoral nomination. He declined to immediately concede the race because de Blasio appeared to barely reach the 40 percent threshold needed to avoid a runoff. Thompson's decision triggered a Board of Elections review of voting machines over the weekend, and a recount that began Monday of about 78,000 paper ballots.

After Thompson's concession, de Blasio said that "if the people choose me, it will be my honor to turn to Bill regularly" for counsel.

But he quickly pivoted to Cuomo, standing directly behind him, as someone who "all of us Democrats have turned to for leadership, for guidance."

Cuomo, who had picked Lhota to run the Metropolitan Transportation Authority — which he left at the end of 2012 — said he would endorse de Blasio and praised Thompson as "a man of substance," who chose to take a step back instead of forward for the betterment of the Democratic Party.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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