NEW YORK — City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, once the most bitter of foes, stood side by side in front of City Hall on Tuesday as she backed him for mayor, sealing the endorsement with a hearty hug.
The scene was unimaginable for much of the year, which de Blasio spent relentlessly attacking Quinn, the former Democratic front-runner, for her close ties to independent Mayor Michael Bloomberg and for the key role she played in allowing Bloomberg to seek a third consecutive term.
But in a political rite repeated every election, the searing barbs and accusations were set aside now that the Democratic primary has been settled and the party unifies around its nominee, de Blasio, who did his part by downplaying the very issue by which he had defined Quinn.
“We had a difference on term limits, and that’s fine,” de Blasio said. “And that issue, by the way, is made moot by the people’s decision in 2010, which is now law in New York City. Like the speaker, I look forward to moving forward to addressing the real issues.”
Quinn’s help allowed Bloomberg to change the city charter so he could run again in 2009. Voters repealed that change the following year.
De Blasio became the Democratic nominee Monday when the primary’s runner-up, ex-comptroller Bill Thompson, bowed out instead of waiting to see if a final vote tally would reveal de Blasio’s support fell below the 40 percent mark needed to avoid an automatic runoff.
Quinn, who was bidding to become the city’s first female and first openly gay mayor, was atop the polls for much of the campaign only to plummet to third in last week’s primary.
She offered a full-throated endorsement of de Blasio, saying she was “proud” to support him and urged her supporters, including several unions, to do the same. She reneged on her frequent campaign attack line that de Blasio wasn’t to be trusted.
“I trust Bill de Blasio, and I believe he will be a terrific mayor for the City of New York,” she said.
During the press conference, drums could be heard from Occupy Wall Street protesters, who were marching nearby to mark the second anniversary of the social justice movement. De Blasio was a vocal supporter of the 2011 protests but had no plans to meet with the demonstrators.
De Blasio will face Republican nominee Joe Lhota and independent candidates in the Nov. 5 general election.
Lhota, a former head of the region’s transportation agency and a deputy to former mayor Rudolph Giuliani, has slammed de Blasio’s campaign theme of “the tale of two cities” — which de Blasio uses to discuss income inequality — as class warfare. Lhota aimed to prove his own inclusiveness on Tuesday by trying to make inroads on traditionally Democratic turf.
He met in the morning with the leaders of the city’s largest municipal employees union, District Council 37, which hasn’t endorsed anyone in the general election, and was set to meet in the evening with civil rights leader the Rev. Al Sharpton.