Bill de Blasio, who in three months catapulted a floundering fourth-place primary campaign into a smashing 50-point general election win, became the towering figure of a resurgent urban liberalism Tuesday, taking the New York City mayor’s office in resounding fashion.
Running on an unabashedly liberal platform from the start, Mr. de Blasio, the city’s public advocate – a small-budget and relatively obscure office that helps residents navigate the city’s public services – promised a radical departure from the Wall Street ethos of his predecessor, the billionaire Michael Bloomberg.
“Tackling inequality isn’t easy – it never has been, and never will be,” de Blasio told a cheering crowd of supporters at the Park Slope Armory in Brooklyn. “The challenges we face have been decades in the making, and the problems we set out to address will not be solved overnight."
“But make no mistake: The people of this city have chosen a progressive path, and tonight we set forth on it, together, as one city,” the mayor-elect continued, modifying his effective campaign theme of “a tale of two cities.”
De Blasio defeated the former transportation chief Joe Lhota, winning 73 percent to 24 percent – a landslide exceeding the 30- to 40-point win predicted by most polls. Mr. Lhota had tried to tie the public advocate’s liberalism to the last Democrat to hold the mayor’s office, David Dinkins, who was elected in 1989 and lost his reelection bid. But that was 24 years ago, and it failed to make an impression among voters.
De Blasio railed against the aggressive stop-and-frisk policies of Mr. Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, promised to raise taxes on the wealthy to fund early childhood education and after-school programs, and directed attention to the lack of affordable housing and the closings of hospitals in poor neighborhoods.
New Yorkers were also charmed by the multicultural de Blasio family – especially the candidate’s charismatic son Dante, whose '70s-style Afro and frequent campaign presence electrified the race and helped draw support from a broad and diverse section of the nation’s largest city.
But mostly, voters resonated with his theme of a tale of two cities. “That inequality – that feeling of a few doing very well, while so many slip further behind – that is the defining challenge of our time,” de Blasio said. “Because inequality in New York is not something that only threatens those who are struggling.”
Boston elects labor leader
In Boston, voters elected the first new mayor in a generation, giving Martin Walsh, a state legislator and longtime labor leader, a 52 percent to 48 percent victory over City Councilor John Connolly, a fellow Democrat once viewed as the front-runner.
Mr. Walsh succeeds Thomas Menino, the five-term mayor who put his stamp on Boston with a tireless energy that combined a deft political sensitivity to the needs of neighborhood residents with a ruthless old-school use of power that rewarded friends and punished enemies.
“In January, Boston begins a new era,” Mr. Walsh told his supporters during his victory speech. “We get to write a new chapter in its 400-year history. We know Boston is a strong city and a fortunate city. My mission is to make it better, to make Boston a hub of opportunity.”
In a race marked by scant policy differences, Walsh set himself apart with a compelling personal narrative. He battled cancer as a child, was shot in the leg during a night of drinking, and struggled with alcoholism. His candor and vulnerability drew support from a broad range of Boston residents, including important endorsements from black and Latino leaders.
But Walsh’s election was also marked by unprecedented support from unions across the country, who rallied to support the current president of Laborers Local 223, a construction workers union. Walsh was also the head of the Boston Metropolitan District Building Trades Council, a group that represents unions of ironworkers, electricians, and other trades. (Walsh resigned his post at the BBT in April to run for mayor, but he remains president of the union local.)
“For this kid from Taft Street in Dorchester, you’ve made Boston a place where dreams come true," Walsh told his supporters."Together we’re going to make Boston a place where dreams come true for every child and every person in every corner of this city.”
Fiscal manager leads in Minneapolis
In Minneapolis, voters unofficially chose the city’s most qualified fiscal manager, City Council Member Betsy Hodges, who will succeed three-term Mayor R.T. Rybak. Chair of the city’s powerful Ways and Means Committee, Ms. Hodges oversees a $1.2 billion city budget and has directed the city’s pension reforms.
But Minneapolis chooses its mayor through a progressive “ranked choice” election that bypasses primaries and allows anyone with a $20 filing fee to join the race. A colorful cast of 35 candidates was on the ballot – although only eight ran traditional campaigns.
Voters first rank their top three choices in order of preference. If a candidate is able to garner more than 50 percent of the first-choice votes, he or she can win outright. If not, the lowest-polling candidate is eliminated, and the second and third choices on that candidate’s ballots are added to the tallies of those remaining. This process continues until a candidate is able to achieve a majority.
With all precincts reporting, Hodges had 36 percent of first-round votes, and Hennepin County Commissioner Mark Andrew trailed with nearly 25 percent. After the second round of counting Wednesday, Hodges is expected to surpass the 50 percent threshold.
Detroit, facing bankruptcy, opts for fiscal manager
In financially challenged Detroit, former hospital chief Mike Duggan, who campaigned as a fiscal manager who would restore the Motor City’s financial health, defeated Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon by 10 points on Tuesday.
Duggan will be the first white mayor of Detroit since 1974.
“When I started on this campaign, I was not under any illusion about the racial division in this country,” Mr. Duggan told supporters in his victory speech. “And I said from the beginning that the only way I could get past it was to sit with you ... and get to know you one by one.”
Cleveland mayor wins third term
Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson easily won a third term Tuesday, defeating businessman Ken Lanci with 67 percent of the vote. According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Mr. Jackson’s win will give him a chance to secure his legacy and become one of the longest-serving mayors in the city’s history.