New York Democratic mayoral hopeful Bill de Blasio and his family celebrate a strong primary showing at his campaign headquarters Tuesday night. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Bloomberg thought that was a negative assessment.
That worked for Democratic primary voters. With more than 98 percent of the votes counted, de Blasio was winning a high enough percentage of the vote—just over 40 percent—to possibly avoid a runoff election with the next strongest Democratic finisher.
The margins were such that a runoff might still be required: de Blasio had 40.2 percent of the votes as of Wednesday morning with thousands of paper ballots yet to be counted. Even when the initial count is completed, a recount could still give a runoff slot to second-place finisher William Thompson, who trailed de Blasio by almost 100,000 votes.
The wide lead that de Blasio ran up in Tuesday’s voting was a remarkable development for a candidate who just a few weeks ago was running fourth in the polls.
The de Blasio surge signaled an embrace of a populist politics that the candidate, at his packed election night party in Brooklyn, described as an “unapologetically progressive alternative to the Bloomberg era.”
Like most of the other contenders in a crowded field of Democratic candidates, the city’s elected Public Advocate embraced a socially-liberal agenda on issues such as marriage equality. But de Blasio did not stop there. He ran on a platform that proposed to increase taxes on the rich in order to raise $500 billion to fund education and community initiatives.
Beyond the specifics of his tax plans, de Blasio promised not to “nibble around the edges of the inequities facing our city.”
That was a specific rejection of the approach advanced for more than a decade by Bloomberg, who New York Times columnist Frank Bruni acknowledged on Monday has “worshiped at the altar of Wall Street.”