John Liu and Bill de Blasio greeted each other with a warm embrace at a Sept. 25 event in Bedford-Stuyvesant.
Despite the fact that each of them heads into Tuesday’s runoff elections for comptroller and public advocate with a massive, labor-fueled organizational advantage, they both drew heavily on the underdog tag during their speeches.
John Liu, who is attempting to become the first Asian-American to hold citywide office, won a huge percentage of the Asian-American vote on Primary Day, and did well among other minority voters.
Council member Letitia James of Brooklyn, said that it is important that minorities stand together in city politics.
“His fight is our fight,” she said. “We stand with this minority because we, as members of a minority, recognize that when we stand together we represent a majority and the time for change.”
Liu continued on the theme.
“It’s about making sure everyone’s taken care of,” Liu said. “I will always have my life- long experience growing up here in New York City as an immigrant.”
He brushed off accusations made by opponent David Yassky that he had been dishonest in a number of matters, most notably in appearing to exaggerate his account of having worked in a sweatshop as a child. In his rabble-rousing speech at the rally, hosted by Brooklyn council member Al Vann, Liu defiantly referred again to his sweatshop story.
De Blasio, who had a similarly fractious debate with his opponent Mark Green during the week, got a large share of his vote from African-American neighborhoods in Brooklyn.
“I owe my victory to central Brooklyn, period,” he said. “I know who got me this far and I know who’s going to put me over the top.”
Speaking after the rally, De Blasio–whose wife is African-American, and who started out in city politics as a protege of Bill Lynch in David Dinkins’ City Hall–said he believes that, if elected, a major part of his role will be to give minorities a voice in city government.
“When you talk to people in the outer boroughs, when you talk to people in communities of color, you often have the concern that government is not being responsive enough,” he said. “So I think a lot of my time and energy will be put into making sure city agencies actually serve people.”