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Path clear for de Blasio as Thompson concedes in New York mayor's race

In the interest of party unity, former New York City Comptroller Bill Thompson conceded Monday in the Democratic primary for mayor – despite what he said were “tens of thousands of votes” that had not yet been counted.

“If this was a general election with consequences about the fundamental direction of our city, you can bet I’d fight until the very last vote,” Thompson said, flanked by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Democratic primary opponent Bill de Blasio, and other high-profile New York pols on the steps of City Hall. “But Bill de Blasio and I want to move our city forward in the same direction. We share the fundamental same views and values. This is bigger than either one of us.”

His move, nearly a week after the Democratic primary, clears the way for de Blasio to take on Republican Joe Lhota, the former head of the city’s transportation system and former deputy mayor under Rudy Giuliani.

It also avoids a messy situation, in which it was unclear if de Blasio had enough votes to avoid an Oct. 1 runoff. A Democratic candidate in New York needs 40 percent to move on to a general election. At last count, de Blasio had 40.3 percent; Thompson was second with about 26 percent.

There were still many votes to be counted, but it was not clear if New York would be able to count the votes in time for the runoff in two weeks, just a month before the general election.

Polls had shown de Blasio beating Thompson handily in a runoff.

“We don’t know if there should be a runoff or if there shouldn't be,” Thompson said, adding, “We’re talking about tens of thousands of votes. That’s a disgrace. Everybody in this city, who cares about democracy and the ability of our people to express their will through the voting booth, ought to be outraged. In the greatest city in the world, in the greatest democracy on earth, we ought to be able to count all the votes. But the reality is, right now the votes have not been counted. And it’s by no means clear when they will be counted.”

Because of the slow vote-counting leading to uncertainty, it would be “impossible to campaign” or “offer a meaningful choice to Democratic voters,” Thompson said, explaining his rationale for dropping out.

Cuomo praised Thompson, who came within just 3.4 percentage points of beating three-term Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2009. “It can be much harder to step back than to step forward,” Cuomo said.

For his part, de Blasio said, “There is nothing more beautiful than Democratic unity.”