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With Weiner out, focus shifts to comptroller primary

(Credit: Politirazzi)

City Comptroller Bill Thompson

By Jason Fink

With the Democratic nomination for mayor all but locked up by Comptroller Bill Thompson, the race to succeed him appears to be the most competitive primary, as the four front-runners try to position themselves as the party’s future stars.

“This is really round one for the next generation of Democratic politicians,” said Doug Birdsell, dean of the Baruch College for Public Affairs.

Thompson, the party’s presumed mayoral nominee, is facing an uphill battle against billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who may spend $100 million on his campaign.Whoever gets the Democratic nod to replace Thompson will not face much opposition in November and can spend the next four years gearing up for 2013, political observers said.

“The comptroller’s race is the big game in town, and that’s going to be the thing that probably defines the next mayoral campaign,” said Joseph Mercurio, a Democratic political strategist.

Wednesday, following Rep. Anthony Weiner’s (D-Brooklyn/Queens) withdrawal from the mayor’s race, the four top comptroller candidates — City Council members John Liu, 42, of Flushing; Melinda Katz, 43, of Forest Hills; David Weprin, 56, of Hollis and David Yassky, 45, of Brooklyn — showed unity by endorsing Thompson on the steps of City Hall, even as they answered questions about their own contest.

“The comptroller’s race will shape the future of the party,” Yassky said.

Liu called it “the hottest race in town.”

There is a primary for public advocate, though Mark Green, who held the position for two terms, appears to be the front-runner, with the backing of 42 percent of voters in a four-man race, according a recent Marist poll.

Thompson will face Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) in the primary but few expect it to be close.

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