Bill de Blasio wins in landslide over Joe Lhota

New Yorkers chose Bill de Blasio as mayor, electing the first Democrat since 1989. Republican rival Joe Lhota says the city "cannot go backwards." AP video. (Nov. 5)

Bill de Blasio was elected New York City's 109th mayor Tuesday in a landslide victory that ends the Bloomberg era and the Democratic Party's two-decade exile from power.

De Blasio, the city's public advocate, led Republican Joe Lhota 73 percent to 24 percent with 78 percent of precincts reporting, according to an Associated Press tally.

Exit polls from news organizations suggested de Blasio won nearly every demographic -- age, gender, race, income and sexual orientation.


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"Make no mistake. The people of this city have chosen a progressive path," de Blasio said in his victory speech.

The Democrat rode a growing sense of fatigue with three-term Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and frustration among blacks and Hispanics over the NYPD's controversial stop-and-frisk tactic.

Calling New York "a tale of two cities," de Blasio, 52, has promised to address the gap between the city's rich and poor, curb "giveaways" to corporations and developers, and to seek higher taxes from New Yorkers earning at least $500,000 to expand universal prekindergarten and after-school programs.

"We reach our greatest heights when we all rise together," de Blasio told his supporters Tuesday night.

He added: "The best and the brightest are born in every neighborhood. We all have a shared responsibility and a shared stake in making sure their destiny is defined by how hard they work and how big they dream -- and not by their ZIP code."

De Blasio's tax-the-rich plan will test his political mettle: Albany must green-light the tax increase, and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has been cool to the idea of raising taxes next year, when he and the Legislature are up for re-election.

Lhota, a Giuliani-era deputy mayor and a former transit chief, argued that the Democrat's economic plans would stymie job creation, and his NYPD plans would send crime soaring to levels unseen since the last Democratic mayor, David Dinkins.

In conceding defeat, Lhota, 59, wished de Blasio "good will," but warned: "We want our city to move forward and not backward. And I hope our mayor-elect understands that before it's too late."

Throughout the race, Lhota's poll numbers never rose above dismal. De Blasio outraised and outspent Lhota by a 3-to-1 margin in the general-election campaign, fortifying a Democratic advantage of 6-to-1 in party enrollment. October's federal government shutdown gave de Blasio ammunition to link Lhota, a self-described social liberal and fiscal conservative, to unpopular congressional Republicans in Washington.

In its final weeks, the general-election race revisited the legacies of Rudy Giuliani as well as Dinkins. De Blasio accused Lhota of being part of a divisive mayoralty.

De Blasio pitched himself as an outer-borough antidote to the billionaire Bloomberg, who critics have called Manhattan-centric. As if to drive home the point, de Blasio hosted Tuesday night's victory party in his neighborhood at the Park Slope Armory YMCA.

Among the 4,000 supporters was Wilbur Devenish, 45, of Crown Heights, an unemployed marketing manager. "I feel wonderful. Tomorrow's a new day for the city and for me. We have a mayor who's not divisive," Devenish said.

De Blasio stunned political handicappers over the summer by catapulting to the nomination from the second tier of a crowded primary field.

In January, a Quinnipiac poll showed more than half of New York registered voters didn't know enough about de Blasio to form an opinion, even though he had held in a citywide elected office for three years. He languished until August, when his campaign released a television ad featuring his 15-year-old biracial son, Dante, praising his father as the only candidate who would fix stop-and-frisk.

Election Day ended a circuslike election season that saw two failed comeback tries in the Democratic primaries -- by mayoral hopeful Anthony Weiner, who quit Congress in 2011 over a sexting-and-lying scandal, and comptroller candidate Eliot Spitzer, who in 2008 resigned the governorship over revelations he patronized a prostitution ring.

If de Blasio's margin of victory holds when returns are complete, it will exceed the 40-percentage-point record for a new mayor set by Democrat Abe Beame in 1973.

As of Jan. 1, Democrats will hold every citywide elective office: Manhattan Borough president and comptroller candidate Scott Stringer, 53, claimed victory over lightly funded Republican John Burnett, 44. Councilwoman Letitia James, 55, had no major-party opposition for public advocate.

With Matt Clark, Ivan Pereira and Dan Rivoli

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