‘The City Needs the Right African-American’: Rev. Butts Endorses Thompson This Time

Uniformed EMS Officers Union stand behind mayoral candidate Bill Thompson during today's event.

Uniformed EMS Officers Union members stand behind mayoral candidate Bill Thompson at today’s event.

Rev. Calvin Butts III, who notably endorsed Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s re-election bid four years ago, is officially throwing his support to the man Mr. Bloomberg defeated in this year’s mayoral race: former Comptroller Bill Thompson.

The endorsement–announced in Harlem at the intersection of 125th Street and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard–is part of Mr. Thompson’s effort to consolidate the minority vote as he faces off against his two top rivals: Democrats Bill de Blasio and Christine Quinn. Indeed, at today’s event, the influential Harlem minister said Mr. Thompson, the only black candidate in the race, would be able to uniquely deliver for the African-American community.

“I think he brings a perspective that we all need,” said Mr. Butts. “What do I say to African-Americans? I say, ‘Yes, I stand with Bill Thompson’ because I think he is the enlightened African-American who can provide great leadership for this city.”

But Mr. Butts, who heads Abyssinian Baptist Church, stressed that it’s more than Mr. Thompson’s race that drew his support.

“The city needs the right African-American,” he said. “It’s one thing to re-enact the march at Washington, but we need progress more than we need protest. We need jobs, we need housing, we need education, and I think Bill Thompson is the man to represent us.”

As for the decision to endorse Mr. Bloomberg over Mr. Thompson in 2009, Mr. Butts said he stood by that decision–which was based on the relationship he had working with the mayor during his previous term. (Some suggested it was because Mr. Bloomberg reportedly gave $1 million to the church’s development corporation.)

“The Bloomberg years were good years,” Mr. Butts reflected. “I think he’s one of the best mayors the city of New York has ever had.”

For his part, Mr. Thompson was eager to express his thanks.

“Having his support today—I’m humbled by it,” said Mr. Thompson.

Later, he added, “It feels better than it did in 2009, obviously.”