On Election Night 2009, Bill Thompson was in his suite at The Hilton and was one of the few people in New York who thought he was about to become the city’s next mayor. Polls from even the week before had him down by as much as 18 points to Mike Bloomberg, and the mayor’s $100 million plus campaign operation had been blitzing the city. They bragged about turnout operation that would be “the most expansive and effective this city has ever seen.” Early in the evening, the networks and the newspapers declared Mr. Bloomberg the winner. Senior Democrats called Mr. Thompson in his suite to offer congratulations, and condolences.
Mr. Thompson told them to wait. Their own returns showed them trailing, but not by that much. “We may have this,” he told aides. The networks reversed themselves; suddenly the race was too close to call. Downstairs in the ballroom, what was thought to be an early evening was turning to disbelief as Thompson aides cursed the city’s Democratic political class—and even President Obama—for lending him only the most perfunctory support because they presumed he was destined for defeat. Read More