(CNN) – New York City voters Tuesday elected a Democrat to the mayor's office for the first time in two decades, giving progressive city Public Advocate Bill de Blasio a victory over Republican nominee Joe Lhota, Edison Media Research projects.
"Make no mistake: The people of this city have chosen a progressive path, and tonight we set forth on it, together, as one city," de Blasio said in his victory speech.
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De Blasio had been widely expected to pull out a landslide win. In the days before the election, polls indicated he was ahead of his opponent by about 40 percentage points.
"To everyone whose vote I didn't earn today, I promise I won't stop working to earn your trust," de Blasio said in his message, which was focused on combating inequality in New York.
At the center of the race were disagreements over taxes and the city's controversial "stop-and-frisk" program backed by incumbent Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
De Blasio campaigned on a promise to raise taxes on those earning more than $500,000 a year to pay for universal pre-kindergarten, an idea Lhota vehemently opposed.
Christie wins in New Jersey; Democrat de Blasio expected to win in NYC
While Lhota painted himself as a fiscal conservative, he sought distance from national Republicans on social issues by reiterating his support of abortion rights and same-sex marriage.
As for the stop-and-frisk policing tactics - which critics call racial profiling - de Blasio said he would replace Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, appoint an independent inspector general and take sufficient steps to end the searches.
Lhota, former GOP Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's deputy and former head of the city Transit Authority, pointed to the sharp reduction of crime under Kelly and was more eager to defend the program, though he agreed it needed to be reworked.
The stop-and-frisk policy - in which police stop, question and frisk people they deem suspicious, even if they've committed no crime - has been one of the most controversial policing techniques in recent time. Law enforcement and other proponents say the practice works to reduce crime.
The mayoral race in the Big Apple was often called a political circus before the primary, when former Rep. Anthony Weiner faced new allegations of his infamous sexting habits.
Weiner had strong numbers in the polls as he started his campaign, suggesting New York was ready to forgive the disgraced ex-congressman. But those numbers quickly plummeted as he refused to drop out of the race after he admitted to having online relationships with women even after he resigned from Congress.
He eventually placed fifth in the crowded Democratic primary.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, a lesbian who would have been the city's first female mayor, was also thought to be a strong contender early on. But as the months went on leading up to Primary Day, she saw her numbers slip, as de Blasio and former comptroller Bill Thompson gained more popularity.
De Blasio, who rose to prominence while also spotlighting his interracial family, narrowly avoided a runoff with Thompson.
The last Democrat to win the office was David Dinkins in 1989.
Oh my God a progressive mayor. That means New York will start going downhill like all cities run by democratic mayors.
Reps goin' down.
The USA is changing. The number of republican voters are shrinking. Even though when it comes to electing governor, most people vote on what they campaign on, not which party they belong to. However, the rivalry between both parties is getting stronger, and the republicans are the ones looking bad.
Get ready New York, you are about to make Chicago look like a cheap,safe place to live. The unions will become extremely rich. I do look so forward to all of those businesses moving to Texas.
Go Democrats. Winner also in 2014.
Well now that just sucks for New York City now doesn't it!!!???
Now NY can fail like Detroit under horrible democrat fiscal responsibility
All i know is that Bloomberg's tenure as mayor is about to end that makes me happy.
Like a dog going back to it's vomit. I can see a moderate Dem, but a guy like De Blasio?
It's going to be interesting to see what he gives to the labor unions. Many have contract renewals coming up.
For all the talk of raising taxes on those making over $500,000 in NYC, given that such would require state Legislative approval – an unlikely approval to be received, making a two tier real property tax system – which the City Council and Mayor can control more readily – is a better solution to generate revenue. By two tiers – I'm talking about taxing those who own real property and co-ops that are not owner occupied at a higher tax rate than those that are owner occupied. This is a similar plan to that which has been implemented in Clark County (Las Vegas), NV. Let the foreign investors pay more in taxes than NY'ers.
As if Bloomberg weren't a social liberal.
Yay! I am certainly looking forward to higher taxes and crime rates! It's going to be like the Dinkins administration all over again!
Well, there goes NYC. I fully expect it to become the toilet it once was in the 80's, just like Detroit has become today.
Meh. Both sides of the same coin. Let me know when someone truly remarkable gets elected.
Sad day in NYC. It's unfortunate there wasn't a real canidate to oppse De Blasio. Here's hoping he doesn't ruin the city too bad while in office.
So proud the Dems are winners tonight. Proud Terry Mcauliffe won. Gov Mcauliffe. GO DEMS 2014.
De Blasio voters are like cheap Christmas lights. Half of them don't work & the other half isn't too bright.
Good,sweep out the stench of Guiliani!
Congrats to New Yorkers for choosing to give up more of your constitutional rights. Don't come asking the rest of us for support or to bail you out when you realize the mistakes you are making.
I just hope for the sake of New York this is no Michael Bloomberg
Now, time to work for all New Yorkers...
Lets face it. We had Ed Koch, he was good for that time period (1978-90). David Dinkins (1990-94), was promising, but was not up to the task to turn the city in the direction it needed to. Rudy Giuliani (1994-02) who I liked because he was the right guy for the right era of NYC. Michael Bloomberg who I liked the first year of his first term seemed to hold promise. Once he defined his administration's goals in 2003, starting with outlawing all establishment bars that they were not permitted to have any smoking rooms, and started policing all establishments on health issues instead of focusing on the bread and butter issues that average NYC citizens needed, him being a billionaire himself, and then trying to form policy and advisory committees in what other parts of NY and the country should be like, I lost total respect for him as a New Yorker myself, me being Upstate. With out of control prices on everything and small businesses struggling down in the city, I am willing to give Deblasio a chance. He has made some very valid points. I think in time after his first year we will know if he is another Giuliani/Ed Koch or another David Dinkins/Bloomberg. I hope another Giuliani or Ed Koch because the middle class and poor down there are squeezed out of opportunity, and if you want average folk to live in a city like NYC, its the middle class and poor that are the backbone to what makes the city running, just like the rich and wealthy are the ones who spend the money, they need the poor and middle class for services and maintenance. Without each other, as we can see evidenced and run by billionaires, having a person like Bloomberg in power shows us the end result. I certainly will not miss Micheal Bloomberg and will be happy to see him go into retirement land. I am sure he will stick his small ugly head out and yell and scream when his taxes go up, but at least he will not be in power anymore after January. Good to see the Bloomberg era coming to a close. Congrats Mayor Deblasio!!!
Goes to show people in the northeast have actual commonsense