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Bill de Blasio Defeats Pro-Racial Profiling Lhota & Other Election Results

Kalia Abiade • Nov 06, 2013

In a landslide, Democrat Bill de Blasio won decisively over Republican opponent Joe Lhota, becoming the first Democratic mayor of New York City in 20 years.

In his victory speech, de Blasio reiterated his “tale of two cities” message that carried him through the campaign. 

“That inequality, that feeling of a few doing very well while so many would slip further behind … that is the defining challenge of our time,” de Blasio said.

The mayor-elect was joined by his multiracial family for the speech, as he has been throughout much of his campaign. His wife Chirlane, who is black, and their two teenage children have been visible on campaign stops and in television ads. In one of the more comical moments during the campaign, current Mayor Michael Bloomberg accused de Blasio of running a “racist” campaign and “using his family to gain support.” De Blasio and several supporters quickly dismissed Bloomberg’s criticism, including de Blasio’s daughter who aptly stated: “I would say that 20 years ago, my dad did not know he was running for mayor, and he did not seek to marry a black woman to put her on display. Thank you.”

The win by de Blasio, who has vigorously championed progressive causes, clearly marks a new, post-Bloomberg era. Bloomberg served three terms as New York City’s mayor and was seen as friendly to Wall Street and big business and, perhaps, less concerned with low- and middle-income New Yorkers and people of color. De Blasio has said explicitly that he will work to end the police department’s stop-and-frisk practice and Muslim surveillance program, two things Lhota had vowed to maintain.

While many civil rights activists and advocates campaigned for de Blasio and are cheering his election, some are urging progressives not to get too excited. He put out a very ambitious agenda that includes tax increases on the wealthy and more sick days for workers, but, pundits warn, compromises will likely be necessary and may tarnish his status as a pure progressive. And, despite his strong statements against stop-and-frisk, the practice — and the Muslim surveillance program — are still entangled in lawsuits yet to be resolved.

For now, though, advocates can be hopeful about de Blasio’s ambitious agenda and take steps to defend and support it.

In other election news:

  • In Virginia, Democrat Terry McAuliffe edged out Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. According to NPR, some moderate Republicans told reporters off the record that they’d hoped McAuliffe would pull off a resounding win to regain some control from the Tea Party stronghold that backed Cuccinelli. The tight race could spell trouble for bipartisan efforts in the commonwealth.
  • An easy win by New Jersey’s incumbent Gov. Chris Christie has kicked off speculation about a 2016 presidential campaign. The Republican won about 60.5 percent of the votes in the heavily Democratic state. Christie has been praised for his support for tuition equity for undocumented students and his criticism of the NYPD Muslim surveillance program; he’s even appointed a Muslim American judge. For these and other positions, he is often called a moderate, but that label has come under increasing scrutiny, and Christie himself maintains he is a conservative.
  • Also in New Jersey, voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage by a dollar to $8.25 an hour and amend the Constitution to tie future increases to inflation. This came despite strong opposition from the business community and Christie’s veto in January of a similar effort by the legislature.
  • Voters in Washington state voted to reject an initiative that would have required special labeling on genetically modified foods. Food justice advocates admitted labeling wasn’t a perfect solution, but would be a move to hold corporations accountable for the treatment of seeds, soil and waterways and support the rights of consumers to know what’s in their food. Five major corporations — Grocery Manufacturers Association, Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer, Dow AgroSciences and Bayer CropScience — led a $22 million campaign to defeat the measure.
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