Bill de Blasio, whose campaign for mayor of New York tapped into a city's deepening unease with income inequality and aggressive police practices, captured far more votes than any of his rivals in the Democratic primary on Tuesday.
But as Mr de Blasio, an activist-turned-operative and now the city’s public advocate, celebrated a remarkable come- from-behind surge, it was not clear if he had won the 40 per cent needed to avoid a runoff election on October 1st with William C Thompson jnr, who finished second. By the end of the night, he had won just over 40 per cent of the ballots counted; the remainder of the count could take days.
The winner of the unusually spirited Republican contest was Joseph Lhota, a no-nonsense former chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. He defeated John A Catsimatidis, a voluble billionaire who ran an often whimsical campaign. Mr Lhota, who served as deputy mayor to Rudolph Giuliani, will carry his tough-minded approach to crime-fighting and city spending into the general election on November 5th.
A vocal supporter of New York mayor Michael Bloomberg's policies, Mr Lhota called his nomination "the first step in continuing a strong future for our city". By contrast, Mr de Blasio's vow to make a clean break from the Bloomberg era struck a chord with Democratic voters worried about jobs and schools.
Roughly three in four wanted to move the city in a different direction after 12 years with Mr Bloomberg, an exit poll found.
In the unexpectedly heated race for the office of city comptroller, Scott Stringer, the Manhattan borough president, repelled a last-minute comeback attempt by Eliot Spitzer, who resigned as governor over his use of prostitutes. And in the Democratic primary for public advocate, city council member Letitia James will face senator Daniel Squadron in a runoff.
In the race for mayor, Mr de Blasio had until a few months ago been a distant fourth in a crowded Democratic field, well behind longtime frontrunner Christine Quinn, who rose to prominence as the speaker of the city council and a close ally of Mr Bloomberg. Mr de Blasio, propelled by an unrelenting critique of the mayor, frustrated Ms Quinn's painstakingly cultivated effort to become the first woman and the first openly gay person to lead the city.
Although Democrats outnumber Republicans in New York by six to one, the city has not elected a Democratic mayor since David Dinkins in 1989.
But the white voters who helped elect Mr Giuliani and Mr Bloomberg are now a less potent force in a city where ethnic and racial minorities now make up a majority of the population. – (New York Times service)