New York City will elect a new mayor Tuesday for the first time since billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg took office 12 years ago, and voters appeared poised to make a clean shift to a liberal.
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio is the heavy favorite to succeed the outgoing Boomberg, with polls suggesting that he’s on the verge of being the first Democrat to be elected mayor since 1989.
De Blasio, an unabashed liberal, positioned himself as a clean break with the Bloomberg years, promoting a sweeping progressive agenda.
He faces Republican rival Joe Lhota, former head of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and a one-time deputy mayor to Rudy Giuliani. Lhota has largely campaigned on continuing the policies of both his former boss and Bloomberg.
The current mayor told New York magazine in September that de Blasio was running a “racist” campaign based on “class warfare.”
Asked to explain what makes de Blasio’s campaign racist, Bloomberg responded, “Well, no, no, I mean he’s making an appeal using his family to gain support. I think it’s pretty obvious to anyone watching what he’s been doing. I do not think he himself is racist. It’s comparable to me pointing out I’m Jewish in attracting the Jewish vote.”
De Blasio has two biracial children with his African American wife.
Bloomberg said he also found de Blasio’s “two cities” rhetoric divisive.
New York’s wealthiest residents, he said, contribute tremendously to the city and also deliver a huge amount of tax revenue that gives the city financial muscle that other municipalities lack.
The race had featured a fierce democratic primary that famously included former US representative Anthony Weiner and his latest sexting scandal.
A slate of other political contests will take place around the country on Tuesday, including gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia, and many other mayoral elections from coast to coast.