Big changes are coming to the Big Apple. After two decades of pro-business, hard-line governance, liberal Democrat Bill de Blasio overwhelmed Republican opponent Joe Lhota on Tuesday, winning the race for mayor of New York City by a stunning margin of some 49 percentage points. De Blasio will be the first Democrat in twenty years to serve as New York’s mayor.
De Blasio stands for virtually everything the two previous mayors, Republican-turned-Independent Michael Bloomberg and Republican Rudy Giuliani, did not. He has an unabashedly liberal agenda that includes putting a stop to wide-ranging police searches, known as “stop-and-frisk,” and a promise to narrow the growing gap between New York’s haves and have-nots.
“This election is a very stark contrast between two very different candidates. Mr. Lhota clearly want to maintain the status quo in the city. I’m calling for fundamental change,” de Blasio told reporters Tuesday, according to CBS News.
Lhota, who served as an advisor to Rudy Giuliani and was chairman of the Metropolitan Transit Authority during Hurricane Sandy, conceded the race at a Manhattan hotel before a crowd of disappointed supporters. “I wish the outcome had been different,” he said.
Lhota has warned New Yorkers that de Blasio is too inexperienced to run the giant metropolis and that his liberal policies will lead to an increase in crime rates. However, city dwellers are clearly fed up with the previous administrations’ conservative agendas, which they associate with overly aggressive and intrusive policing tactics, growing unavailability of affordable housing, and inattention to public education.
Given that leading up to the crowded Democratic primary, de Blasio was in fourth place behind former Rep. Andrew Weiner and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, his overwhelming victory on Tuesday is remarkable. To be sure, he was helped by Weiner’s ignominious withdrawal from the race after admitting to sending obscene images and messages to women he met online. But de Blasio’s astounding surge in the polls can be largely attributed to a brilliant campaign strategy.
By placing his own mixed-race family at the forefront of his campaign, de Blasio was able to connect with New York’s increasingly diverse electorate, who clearly liked what they saw. His very appealing 15-year-old son Dante, who has an imposing afro, was featured in a television ad where he championed his dad’s positions on stop-and-frisk and affordable housing.
At a victory celebration in Brooklyn, de Blasio greeted the crowd of jubilant supporters, saying, “Make no mistake: the people of the city have chosen a progressive path, and tonight we set forth on it, together.”