NEW YORK (AP) — The leading New York City mayoral candidates raced across the city Monday in a frantic, final full day of campaigning to make their closing arguments to voters in the hours before polls open, a pace that belied a contest whose outcome seems all but certain.
Democrat Bill de Blasio, the public advocate and front-runner in the race, attended large campaign rallies in three boroughs and urged his supporters to turn out Tuesday. His Republican rival, Joe Lhota, appeared in Manhattan and on Staten Island during the day and stood alongside his former boss, ex-mayor Rudy Giuliani, at a pair of evening campaign stops.
The final blitz was a fitting coda for the yearlong campaign to select Mayor Michael Bloomberg's successor, a marathon marked by debates about hot-button issues, outsized personalities and staggering political implosions.
But for all the surreal spectacles the campaign has generated, there is little evidence of an 11th-hour surprise. Since winning his party's primary, de Blasio has led every general election poll by nearly 40 points. Democrats outnumber Republicans 6-to-1 in the city.
De Blasio's tour Monday felt at times like a victory lap as he moved from Brooklyn to the Bronx to Queens, pledging to remember New Yorkers who felt left behind by what they perceived as Manhattan-centric policies during Bloomberg's three terms as mayor.
"Together we will make this a city for everyone again," said de Blasio to a crowd gathered at a Bronx senior center. "The way that Mayor Bloomberg did things is not the only way to do things, I assure you."
Even when he was running fourth in Democratic primary polls over the summer, de Blasio offered himself as the cleanest break from the city's dozen years under the leadership of Bloomberg, the billionaire who guided New York through the aftermath of 9/11 and the meltdown on Wall Street.
Accusing Bloomberg of favoring real estate developers and the finance world, de Blasio offered his own progressive platform that included improved police-community relations and a tax hike on the wealthy to pay for universal pre-kindergarten.
He moved up in the polls thanks in part to the implosions of the candidacies of two former front-runners, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and ex-U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner. Now, with City Hall appearing to be within his grasp, de Blasio noted that a rout could give him a mandate powerful enough to push through his agenda, including the tax hike, which would need support in Albany.
"The more support you get in the election, the more ability you have to achieve your goals," de Blasio said. "If we get a strong result, it will help us get our work done."
Lhota, meanwhile, seemed to revel in his underdog status. As he walked through Harlem, a heavily African-American neighborhood expected to go decisively for de Blasio, he continued to hammer what he believes is his rival's thin executive resume while mixing in a few dance moves set to the music blaring from a passing car.
"Momentum is in my favor, at this time," said Lhota, the former head of the city's transit agency. "I'm very, very comfortable with where I am, and I'm very optimistic."
Lhota has largely pledged to continue the policies, particularly on public safety, of Bloomberg and his former boss. Giuliani, a divisive figure in the city he once led, has been noticeably absent on the general election campaign trail.
He did appear with Lhota on Friday in GOP-heavy Staten Island and then greeted commuters with the Republican nominee at a pair of Manhattan ferry terminals late Monday.
He extolled Lhota's tireless work during the aftermath of the terror attacks 12 years ago. Lhota believes he contracted cancer, which is now in remission, from his time at the smoldering ruins of the World Trade Center.
"I'm very proud of Mr. Lhota," Giuliani said. "The city has a chance to elect a man who was been through the worst that has ever happened to this city and was able to stand up as a hero."
Polls are set to open at 6 a.m. Tuesday and close at 9 p.m.
Associated Press writer Jennifer Peltz contributed to this report.