Hunter Walker

Hunter Walker is a national affairs reporter for TPM. He came to the site in 2013 from the New York Observer. He has also written for New York Magazine, Gawker, the Village Voice, Forbes, The Daily, and Deadspin. He can be reached at hunter@talkingpointsmemo.com

Articles by Hunter

A Wall Street Journal-NBC 4 New York-Marist  pollof the Democratic primary in the New York City mayoral election showed Thursday that Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn were tied in first place with 24 percent each among likely voters.

Former Comptroller Bill Thompson was in third place with 18 percent. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 5.2 percent.

New York City law provides that, if no candidate earns at least 40 percent of the vote in the primary, there will be a runoff between the top two finishers. The new Wall Street Journal-NBC 4 New York-Marist poll found de Blasio would beat either of his rivals in hypothetical runoff matchups. It also found Thompson would beat Quinn in a runoff.

A Quinnipiac poll released Tuesday found de Blasio in first place. Though this poll did not show him leading outright , he has continually gained ground since Anthony Weiner's latest sexting scandal in July.

Polls have showed all of the leading Democrats well ahead of any potential Republican challenger.

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In an interview with TPM published Thursday, Bill Thompson, one of the three leading candidates in the New York City mayoral election, discussed how getting guns off the streets is a major priority for him.

"If you look at his fight against guns, that’s something that has particular meaning in New York City," Thompson said of current Mayor Michael Bloomberg. "I know it’s been a national fight, but particular meaning in New York City given gun violence in communities of color, in black and Latino communities. We want to see gun use eliminated. It’s cost us too many of our children."

Thompson first brought up the issue when noting elements of Bloomberg's record that he felt deserved praise including Bloomberg's gun control policies and advocacy.

Thompson also said curbing gun violence was a major factor behind his position on the city police department's stop-and-frisk policy. He has said the policy, which was declared unconstitutional by a federal judge Monday, should be reformed, but not eliminated entirely. 

"I have not said end stop-and-frisk. I have said it’s been misused and it needed to be used correctly," said Thompson. "I still have always believed that peoples’ constitutional and civil rights can be protected while we also fight to maintain safety and get guns off the streets."

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Bill Thompson has some beefs.

The man who won the Democratic nomination for New York City mayor in 2009 and then came surprisingly close to defeating Michael Bloomberg believes pollsters and pundits are wrong about this year's election.

He objects to the notion he's less "progressive" than the mayoral race's current frontrunner, city Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. He also thinks he's being underestimated in the polls -- and, on that point, he just might be right.

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On Tuesday, Bill de Blasio became the latest frontrunner in New York City's mayoral election, a race which has seen several major shifts in polling. Whoever emerges victorious in the first round of the Democratic primary next month, almost all of the polling indicates he or she will be headed to a runoff against the second place finisher three weeks later. This might be a problem.

The Big Apple's recent history of elections have included legal battles, chaotic lines at the polls, and vote counts that seem to never end. Adding to those headaches next month are the return of the city's aging lever-pull voting machines and the possibility of a close finish for that number two spot, opening the door for a nightmare scenario where the results are still in dispute as the date of the final runoff approaches.

"I can't even think about that, the concept is too stressful," one mayoral campaign staffer, who asked not to be named, said after TPM asked about how the potential Election Day chaos could complicate the tightly scheduled race.

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Public Advocate Bill de Blasio is the latest frontrunner in the New York City mayoral election, according to a Quinnipiac poll released Tuesday. The poll found De Blasio leading the crucial Democratic primary with 30 percent compared to 24 percent for City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and 22 percent for former Comptroller Bill Thompson.

Former Congressman Anthony Weiner was in fourth place with 10 percent and has not been at the front of the pack since news of his latest sexting scandal broke last month. 

The polls in the New York City mayoral race have varied wildly over the past few months with Quinn, Weiner, and now De Blasio all spending time in first place. New York City law provides that, if no candidate in the primary earns at least 40 percent of the vote, there will be a runoff between the top two finishers. Tuesday's Quinnipiac poll also found De Blasio would beat Quinn, Thompson, or Weiner in a runoff matchup. Throughout the race, polling has showed all of the Republican candidates are far behind the leading Democrats in a hypothetical general election. 


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Bassel Korkor, an associate at the law firm of Jones Day, divides his time between Washington, D.C., and Cleveland. In his spare time, the 32-year-old husband and father is moonlighting as a revolutionary.

The child of Syrian Christians who came to the United States in the 1970s, Korkor has spent most of his life in America. However, he's managed to take on a very active role in the fight against the regime of President Bashar Assad that has gripped Syria since 2011. Korkor is currently serving as a pro bono legal adviser to the American office of a group that is positioning itself as the political arm of the rebellion in that country.

"I can say this for me, this is my first revolution," Korkor told me when we first spoke by telephone in June.

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New York City comptroller and mayoral candidate John Liu grabbed this reporter's skateboard and took it for a brief ride outside the They Might Be Giants concert at the Prospect Park Bandshell in Brooklyn Saturday night. 

Liu was standing outside the event greeting voters and asked to borrow TPM's skateboard. Though he was wearing dress shoes, Liu, who was an avid skater in his youth, jumped on the board and proceeded to do a rapid series of turns.

"Is that the comptroller of New York City on a skateboard?" one bystander asked.  

"It's been a long time since I've been on a skateboard," Liu said.

Watch a video of Liu's skate session below.


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Ken Cuccinelli, the attorney general and Republican nominee for governor in Virginia, told supporters recently they should have no question about his support for E.W. Jackson, the GOP's polarizing nominee for lieutenant governor in that state.

Cuccinelli made his comments over the weekend in private conference call with a group called Homeschoolers for Ken after a woman asked why he hadn't "linked up" with Jackson or made a formal endorsement. TPM obtained audio of that call.

"I am calling to find out why so far you have not linked up with E.W. Jackson for lieutenant governor. I'm really excited about him," the woman said. "I'm very encouraged by his pro-life stance. I feel like the two of you are on the same page and I'm wildly excited that you could both be elected, but I'm not sure what will happen if you don't endorse him and I just want to know why there hasn't been a linkup." 

Cuccinelli responded by disputing the notion there was any split between him and Jackson, and promising they will spend more time campaigning together in the final weeks of the election. 

"I think there's a misconception there. I mean, the minute he was nominated we spent three days traveling to every media market in Virginia together," said Cuccinelli. "I expect that when we close out the race, the last push is going to be the ticket traveling around the state again."

He continued by arguing the work he does at the "top of the ticket" will benefit Jackson and other Republican candidates in Virginia. Cuccinelli also assured the woman he supports Jackson and Mark Obenshain, the GOP's nominee for attorney general. 

"You use the word 'endorse.' Of course I'm supporting both Mark and E.W.," Cuccinelli said. "I don't think there's ever been any question about that. And there shouldn't be on this call."

Cuccinelli previously made attempts to distance himself from Jackson, including during a radio interview in June where he said he "absolutely" wants to be judged separately from Jackson and added, "E.W.’s going to have to introduce himself individually to the rest of Virginia.

Since winning the lieutenant governor nomination in May, Jackson has made negative, national headlines for past statements criticizing gays, accusing President Barack Obama of harboring “Muslim sensibilities,” comparing Planned Parenthood to the KKK, praising the Constitution's original clause to count blacks as three-fifths of a person, and for his efforts in the late 1980's to fight desegregation in Boston

Listen to the audio of the conference call below, which was posted on Vimeo under an account using the name "Jack Hertzfedlt." Cuccinelli begins discussing his support for Jackson at about 26:50.

Homeschool Tele-Townhall from Jack Hertzfedlt on Vimeo.



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