By Claudia Parsons
NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York Democrats on Tuesday picked the city's chief financial officer, William Thompson, to run against Mayor Michael Bloomberg in November's mayoral election in which the incumbent is heavily favored to win.
Thompson has been City Comptroller since 2001 and was re-elected in 2005. With more than 90 percent of precincts counted, he held an unassailable lead with around 70 percent of the vote in an election marked by low turnout, according to local media.
The other closely watched race in Tuesday's primaries was to decide a successor to retiring district attorney Robert Morgenthau, 90, who is standing down after 35 years in the high-profile job that includes prosecuting financial crimes on Wall Street.
Voters appeared to take their cue from Morgenthau, who had thrown his weight behind Cyrus Vance Jr., a former prosecutor under him in the 1980s and the son of U.S. President Jimmy Carter's secretary of state. With most precincts counted, Vance was ahead with 44 percent of the vote.
The billionaire Bloomberg, an independent who Republicans have asked to run as their mayoral candidate, has already spent millions of dollars of his own money campaigning for a third term, and opinion polls give him a strong lead.
Bloomberg, who spent about $150 million of his own money to run in 2001 and 2005, led a campaign last year to overturn term limit laws that would have stopped him from running again.
Thompson's rivals for the Democratic nomination were Councilman Tony Avella and Roland Rogers, a nonprofit manager and real estate developer.
With no Republican running for Manhattan district attorney, the Democratic primary effectively seals the result of that election.
Vance defeated Richard Aborn, a lawyer and gun control advocate, and Leslie Crocker Snyder, a former judge who lost to Morgenthau in the Democratic primary four years ago.
The character of Manhattan district attorney has been portrayed by numerous actors in television and film crime dramas, but the winner will become only the third person to hold the job in 68 years. Before Morgenthau was first elected to the post in 1974, Frank Hogan had held the job since 1941.
(Editing by Philip Barbara)