It may have taken two weeks longer than he originally hoped, but Queens City Councilmember John Liu will be the Democratic nominee for City Comptroller this November.
Liu defeated Brooklyn City Councilmember David Yassky in a runoff on Tuesday, September 29, receiving 56 percent of the vote compared to Yassky’s 44 percent.
“We were taught that the inherent promise of this great city and country, that if you work hard, meet your obligations, recognize the social responsibility that belongs to each of us – that you will have every opportunity to do better for yourself and your family, and this certainly is the lesson that I’ve learned tonight,” Liu told supporters during his victory party Tuesday night.
The runoff, which was prompted by neither candidate registering 40 percent of the vote during the regular September 15 primary, saw very low turnout throughout the day with many polling sites reporting voters trickling in to vote. Liu, who served as a Queens City Councilmember for the past eight years, received 38 percent of the vote on primary night with Yassky coming in second with 32 percent.
During the two weeks leading up to the primary, Liu retained a slim lead over Yassky in the polls, and the Yassky campaign ratcheted up attacks against Liu hoping to cut into that lead.
“We have had very strong supporters even before the primary and any time these negative attacks came on it would only reinvigorate them,” said Sharon Lee, a spokesperson for Liu, who was on her way to meet the nominee in lower Manhattan early Wednesday morning, September 30, where he was already greeting supporters.
“Yesterday was a tremendous milestone in the campaign and first thing this morning he hit the ground running as usual,” Lee said. “That is a harbinger of how he will hit the ground running [as Comptroller].”
Liu will now face Republican Comptroller candidate Joe Mendola in the November 3 election. Most pundits believe that the winner of the runoff between Liu and Yassky will have an easy time defeating the Republican nominee since Democrats outnumber Republicans by roughly six to one in New York City.
However, Mendola wasted little time in attacking Liu, by sending out an email on Tuesday night to supporters and members of the media before the final results were tallied.
“Mr. Liu’s record and statements expose very serious questions about his integrity and honesty, two crucial qualities that any Comptroller must have,” Mendola wrote, citing Liu’s description of his childhood, Council accomplishments and source of campaign funds.
“The last thing NYC needs is another ambitious politician indebted to various special interests who will use the Office of Comptroller as a stepping stone to higher office,” Mendola continued.
Liu is looking to become the first Asian-American elected to citywide office – something that Lee said was never his goal – but would still be an honor.
“He’s ready to take on the responsibilities that come with that as he did in his eight years as the first Asian-American elected to legislative office in New York,” Lee said.