NEW YORK — November 6, 2013. The long lead-up to the New York City mayoral election is over and the winner by a landslide is: New York City.
Bill de Blasio, the self-described progressive candidate, didn’t simply win, he crushed his opponent, former deputy mayor and MTA boss Joe Lhota. De Blasio did this despite Lhota’s red-baiting and fear mongering tactics. New Yorkers didn’t seem to care that de Blasio once described himself as a “democratic socialist” or that he honeymooned in Cuba. De Blasio campaigned on two signature issues: taxing the rich to pay for education and ending stop-and-frisk, the NYPD’s controversial program that targets African American youth for random (none dare say arbitrary) searches.
In the end, Lhota’s personal attack ads didn’t make a dent — de Blasio got 73 percent of the vote. Now that the election is over dinnertime television can file the personal attacks in the dustbin and we can all return to the nightly news being punctuated by big pharma selling four-hour erections. To be honest, a part of me will miss Joe Lhota’s adverts. His over-the-top ads featured the tag line “Don’t let Bill de Blasio take us back” — to a crime wave — which was reminiscent of the Direct TV ad campaign that featured Charlie Sheen. “Don’t re-enact scenes from Platoon with Charlie Sheen. Get rid of cable and upgrade to Direct TV,” the deliberately off-the-wall ads advised — after stating that being unhappy with cable logically led to being in a Turkish bath house with Sheen and ultimately to acting out scenes from Platoon with an armed and wild-eyed Charlie. Unfortunately for Lhota, people took his scary advertisements about seriously as the Direct TV commercials.
This reporter has followed Bill de Blasio’s career for some time, not because of a sixth sense, but because de Blasio is a workhorse who appeared at numerous progressive events and forums over the years. And now he has pledged to work to take New York down a “progressive path.” Doubtless we will miss our diminutive billionaire mayor – who will save us from sugary soda? But this writer has a hunch we will muddle through without Mike telling us what to eat. And just maybe our teachers will get the support they need to do their jobs effectively.
It’s worth noting that De Blasio’s win wasn’t the only good news for progressives on election day. On the other side of New York harbor, in conservative Staten Island, progressive City Council member Debi Rose easily defeated the Republican challenger, Mark Macron. Could it be that progressive politics are in the ascendant in New York City?