NEW York has elected its first Democratic mayor in 20 years as the city veered Left and embraced a progressive candidate.
Bill de Blasio won with 73 per cent of the vote, taking all five city boroughs, the biggest mayoral landslide since 1985.
His Republican opponent Joe Lhota conceded 30 minutes after polls closed – he won just 24 per cent – and an hour later on Tuesday night Mr de Blasio made his victory speech in front of cheering supporters.
He said: “My fellow New Yorkers, today you spoke up loudly and clearly for a new direction for our city, united by a belief that our city should leave no New Yorker behind.
“Make no mistake, the people of this city have chosen a progressive path and tonight we set forth on it together as one city.”
Mr de Blasio has already been called a “liberal extremist” by opponents, a man who will supposedly start class warfare after being chosen as the 109th mayor of America’s biggest city.
But the voters wanted a change after 12 years and three terms of the incumbent, billionaire technocrat Michael Bloomberg, who was aloof and perceived as having cosied up to Wall Street.
Mr de Blasio has vowed to tax the rich to pay for schools, wants more fair rents on private accommodation and is against private-sector run Charter Schools.
He will change aggressive police tactics such as the controversial “Stop and Frisk”, seen as unfairly targeting people of colour, and has said that life under Mr Bloomberg had been an unequal “tale of two cities”.
To underscore his point, he came on stage on Tuesday night to the hit Royals by US charttopper Lourde which runs: “And we’ll never be royals, It don’t run in our blood, That kind of luxe just ain’t for us, We crave a different kind of buzz.” He told the crowd: “We will not be defined by the cold steel of our skyscrapers … but the boldness of our collective spirit.”
Afterwards he did a “smack down” dance with his family that has become a trademark of his campaign. Mr de Blasio, 52, is the current New York City public advocate, akin to a consumers’ ombudsman, and previously helped organise Hillary Clinton’s run for the senate in 2000. He was off the radar as a candidate until August when he ran a campaign advert featuring his son Dante, 15.
New York swooned over his multi-racial, right-on family – his wife Chirlane McCray is black and a former lesbian – and Mr de Blasio’s poll ratings rocketed with the backing of supporters such as Sarah Jessica Parker and Susan Sarandon.
Mr Lhota, 59, is head of New York’s transit authority and was the right-hand man of Republican Rudy Giuliani, who was mayor during the 11 September, 2001 attacks. But during the three televised TV debates he was easily flustered and came across as unprepared.
Voters also saw him as too much of an establishment candidate and were prepared to overlook de Blasio’s lack of executive experience to give him a chance.
De Blasio now faces the challenge of delivering on his idealistic promises whilst appeasing activists groups and unions who backed him, especially with key pay talks ahead.