Bill de Blasio outlines liberal agenda after New York mayoral victory

NEW YORK -- To the cheers of hundreds of supporters, New York’s next mayor, Bill de Blasio, promised Tuesday to lead the city down a path that would tackle racial inequality and undo income gaps that he said were “decades in the making.”

“Today you spoke out loudly and clearly for a new direction for our city, united by a belief that our city should leave no New Yorker behind,” De Blasio, the city’s liberal Democratic public advocate, told supporters after exit polls and early returns showed him headed for a landslide victory over his Republican rival, Joe Lhota.

De Blasio’s victory was not a big surprise. Polls had showed him leading Lhota by about 40 percentage points since the start of the campaign. But the speed with which local news media called it based on exit polls was a surprise.

NY1, the city’s all-news TV station, declared De Blasio the winner within minutes of the polls closing at 9 p.m., before any votes were counted and before the doors to De Blasio’s postelection party had opened to supporters. Lhota conceded within the hour, ending a campaign that critics said was doomed to fail, given New York’s demographics and the city’s overwhelmingly Democratic electorate.

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But De Blasio said his supporters could not rest on the victory.

“Our work, all of our work, is really just beginning. And we have no illusions about the task that lies ahead,” said De Blasio, who was joined on stage by his wife and two children. “Tackling inequality isn’t easy. It never has been and it never will be. 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.”

De Blasio paid tribute to Lhota, who called him about half an hour after polls closed to concede defeat. “Even though we have our differences, I know he loves the city as much as I do,” De Blasio said.

De Blasio will take office in January, becoming New York’s 109th mayor and the first Democrat elected since David Dinkins in 1989. He replaces Michael R. Bloomberg, a onetime Democrat who was elected as a Republican and later became an Independent.

The fabulously wealthy Bloomberg appealed to moderate Democrats but in recent years was seen as out of touch with working-class and poor New Yorkers, and with those living outside of Manhattan. De Blasio and Lhota live in Brooklyn and used this to portray themselves as far different from Bloomberg.

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De Blasio’s multiracial family – he is white and his wife is black – gave him an added advantage in New York, an increasingly diverse city. So did his stance against the Police Department’s use of stop-question-and-frisk tactics in high-crime, mainly black and Latino neighborhoods.

A turning point in the campaign came when De Blasio’s teenage son, Dante, starred in a TV ad citing his father’s opposition to stop-and-frisk. Voters saw in Dante an example of the kind of youth who might be targeted for random stops.

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