Over at his victory party in Dumbo, Bill de Blasio seemed shocked that he managed to get himself into a runoff for the office of Public Advocate with veteran candidate Mark Green. “This is a wonderful result — amazing!” de Blasio said between hugs. “You kind of just get used to assuming it’s not going to be as good as you hoped it would be — and then this happens!”
With his hip young supporters at a hip bar on Water Street, the de Blasio party felt a little like an Obama rally (That is, if you took out the cluster of orthodox Jews from Borough Park or the representatives of a largely Caribbean Democratic Club in Flatbush). The campaign staff and volunteers, made up of people in their twenties, were ecstatic: “You know, he’s a little like Barack in that he comes from the struggle,” said a twenty-something volunteer who works organizing hotel workers for the AFL-CIO. “I’m emotional now”…
Up till recently, Mark Green — who was the city’s first public advocate and almost beat Michael Bloomberg for mayor in 2001 — was well ahead in the polls. De Blasio’s campaign had been somewhat tainted by a scandal involving his ties to the non-profit group ACORN and its affiliate for-profit consulting group, Data and Field Services. (No wrongdoing has been proven, but there are questions over whether the candidates received free services from an organization that takes taxpayer money. De Blasio spent election day drafting a letter to ACORN in an attempt to distance himself from the organization).
The candidate told the Voice that a ‘storm the streets’ strategy was a big reason for his unexpected success; he had sent nearly one thousand volunteers to camp out in subway stations and sidewalks on Tuesday. “It may be old fashioned, but it works.”
De Blasio will face Green in a runoff in two weeks. In the next couple days, expect candidate debates.
With a budget that is less than four million dollars, the Public Advocate’s office is far less powerful than the comptroller’s office. The office has lost clout under the Bloomberg administration.