New Yorkers choose first Democrat mayor in decades

New Yorkers choose first Democrat mayor in decades

NEW YORK – Reuters
New Yorkers choose first Democrat mayor in decades

Liberal Democrat Bill de Blasio (2nd R) hugs his wife Chirlane (R) and children Chiara and Dante during his election victory party at the Park Slope Armory in New York November 5, 2013. REUTERS photo

Liberal Democrat Bill de Blasio cruised to victory on Nov. 5 in the race to succeed New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, marking the first time a Democrat has captured City Hall in two decades in the election which often carries enough weight to have a national impact.

De Blasio, the city’s public advocate, was leading Republican rival Joe Lhota 73 percent to 24 percent after a campaign in which he railed against economic inequality in America’s most populous city, with 56 percent of precincts reporting.

“My fellow New Yorkers: today, you spoke out loudly and clearly for a new direction in our city, united by a belief that our city should leave no New Yorker behind,” de Blasio told a gathering of about 2,000 revelers on the night of Nov. 5 in Brooklyn.

“The growing inequality we see, the crisis of affordability we face, it has been decades in the making. But its slow creep upon this city cannot weaken our resolve,” de Blasio said.

Challenges ahead after election

After promising to close the gap between the rich and poor, he now faces the challenge of high expectations - keeping crime at historic lows and reaching a long-overdue wage deal with the city workers’ unions.

The 1.96-meter tall de Blasio won a hotly contested Democratic primary in September by focusing on the controversial “stop-and-frisk” police tactic endorsed by Bloomberg and by criticizing the billionaire mayor for presiding over “two New Yorks” - one rich, one poor.

He also promoted expanding access to pre-kindergarten, proposing a tax on the city’s highest earners to pay for it. De Blasio further promised that he would fight to save community hospitals from closing. But it was de Blasio’s charismatic, biracial family that offered perhaps the biggest boost.

A campaign ad featuring de Blasio’s teenage son, Dante, who sports a tall Afro, argued that the police department’s stop-and-frisk policy unfairly targets young, black men and was easily the most discussed ad of the campaign, transforming Dante into a local celebrity.

Christie remains in Jersey
Meanwhile, moderate Republican Chris Christie easily won re-election as New Jersey governor, while a conservative Republican popular with the Tea Party movement narrowly lost his bid for the Virginia governorship, in two races closely watched for signs of voters’ moods ahead of the 2016 presidential race.

Christie’s broad, cross-party appeal sealed his status as a top contender if he decides to run for the White House in 2016, and the blunt governor addressed Americans’ frustration with partisan stalemate in his victory speech.

In New Jersey, Christie is known for his readiness to work with Democrats, a nod to the state’s politically moderate population, where registered Democrats and independents both outnumber Republicans.

In Virginia, former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe was elected governor, largely with the support of the heavily populated Washington suburbs that were hard hit by the government shutdown.

McAuliffe’s campaign had held up rival Ken Cuccinelli, the state’s attorney general, as a symbol of the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party, seen by many voters as responsible for the shutdown, which economists said took a $24 billion bite out of the U.S. economy.