Bill Thompson Rallies Black and Jewish Support in Final Stretch

Bill Thompson with Republican Al D'Amato to his left and Assemblyman Dov Hikind to his right.
Bill Thompson with Al D’Amato to his left and Dov Hikind to his right.

At 4 p.m. yesterday, he gathered with a former Republican senator and conservative Jewish leaders in a roped-off avenue in Crown Heights. An hour later and just a mile away, he was standing in a Bed-Stuy shopping plaza, rallying with liberal African-American congressmen and members of the teacher’s union.

Former Comptroller Bill Thompson, a Democratic candidate for mayor, is counting on this peculiar combination for Tuesday, hoping to forge seemingly disparate groups into a winning coalition.

“He doesn’t promise everything to everyone and give everyone the answer they may like to hear,” said former Senator Al Mr. D’Amato, surrounded by gawking Hasidim at the first event. He argued that that restraint helped to build trust. “When he gives you an answer,” he said, “you know that it is real.”

The message at the event, stressed repeatedly by Thompson backers including Assemblyman Dov Hikind and other more right-leaning Orthodox Jewish leaders, was that Mr. Thompson–unlike his front-running rival Bill de Blasio–was not a quixotic liberal who would have difficulty collaborating with people of all ideological stripes, including the city’s business leaders.

“We have been shocked and deeply embarrassed, as New Yorkers, at some of the candidates this race has produced, people who are engaged in class warfare, people who have no understanding of the real world,” said Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, a former assistant to Mr. D’Amato and ex-GOP Gov. George Pataki. “There are some 5,000 people out there, I’m not one of them, who pay about 30 percent of the taxes in this city. You may like them, you may not like them, but they have mobility.”

Congressman Charlie Rangel speaks at a Thompson rally.
Congressman Charlie Rangel speaks at a Thompson rally.

An hour later on Fulton Street, Mr. Thompson was rallying with influential left-leaning labor and congressional leaders, flaunting the ideological and racial dexterity of his campaign.

Packing a shopping plaza next to an Applebee’s, Mr. Thompson was hailed by both United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten. Feting Mr. Thompson, along with hollering UFT and Teamster union members, were California Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Missouri Congressman Rev. Emanuel Cleaver and local leaders like Congressmen Charlie Rangel and Gregory Meeks.

At the raucous rally, where shouts of “Tuesday for Thompson!” erupted every few minutes, speakers railed against the income inequality of the Bloomberg years and the challenges facing labor unions.

“What the Times said, [Mr. Thompson] is going to be controlled by the teachers. Well, let me tell you something, it’s better to be controlled by teachers than to be controlled by Wall Street,” said Hazel Dukes, president of the New York State chapter of the NAACP. “It’s better to be controlled by teachers who work for a living and don’t get paid what they deserve than to have billionaires and millionaires coming in here and raking all the money from us.”

After the rally ended, Politicker approached Mr. Rangel, one of the more left-leaning members of the House, to ask him what he made of Mr. Thompson’s seemingly incongruous supporters, including Mr. D’Amato and himself.

“I had no idea that they even knew each other,” Mr. Rangel said.

Mr. Thompson brushed off suggestions that having a Republican like Mr. D’Amato stump for him tarnished his liberal credentials.

“I believe I’m a progressive Democrat and also, you look at my record,” he told reporters. “At the same point, the senator is a strong representative from this state and worked on behalf of this state for years … I’m happy to have his support.” Bill Thompson Rallies Black and Jewish Support in Final Stretch