Progressive Bill de Blasio appears poised on Wednesday to win the Democratic primary for New York City mayor.
If the public advocate has 40% of the vote, which he appears close to having at the time of this writing, he can avoid an Oct. 1 run-off election in which he'd face former city comptroller Bill Thompson, now in second place at 26%.
Democracy Now! reported on Wednesday that
De Blasio campaigned as the most progressive candidate to replace outgoing three-term Mayor Michael Bloomberg, criticizing Bloomberg’s embrace of the police tactic of "stop and frisk" and vowing to take on growing inequality between rich and poor.
Juan Gonzalez reported last week on what part of what made de Blasio shoot to the top of the race, including his vocal stance against the city's stop-and-frisk practices. Gonzalez wrote:
More than the other contenders, de Blasio understood most New Yorkers have not fully recovered from the Great Recession of 2008, that many resent this “Tale of Two Cities” we have become. [...]
De Blasio turned that understanding into a consistent narrative: After 12 years of Bloomberg, who catered first and foremost to landlords, Wall Street moguls and charter school promoters, who allowed the police to turn stop-and-frisk into a massive abuse of the city’s black and brown residents, it’s time for a change.
Thompson, who was also fighting for the Democratic nomination, offered a stark contrast to de Blasio. Gonzalez wrote that
when it comes to stop-and-frisk, a pivotal issue in the black community, Thompson played it safe. He spoke out against the misuse of the practice, but then opposed legislation in the City Council backed by key black leaders like Brooklyn Councilman Jumaane Williams and the Rev. Al Sharpton.
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As Gonzalez wrote, de Blasio's platform on education offered a rebuke to Mayor Bloomberg. Politico reported that
advocates for traditional public education are jubilant that Bill de Blasio came out on top Tuesday in the Democratic mayoral race in New York City after a campaign in which he promised to yank support from charter schools, scale back high-stakes standardized testing and tax the wealthy to pay for universal preschool and more arts education.
Bloomberg took some heat after he called de Blasio's campaign "racist." Imara Jones explains in Colorlines that during the race, de Blasio
campaigned extensively with his African American wife Chirlane McCray, alongside their biracial children. De blasio’s 15-year-old son, Dante, was featured in a campaign blitz against the illegal practice of stop-and-frisk, which the mayor has championed. For Bloomberg, all of this was a little too much to take.
In response to a question from New York Magazine about whether de Blasio’s campaign represents “class-warfare,” Bloomberg piped in “class-warfare and racist.” Pressed to explain himself, Bloomberg said that though de Blasio himself is not racist, his “appeal” is such. Going in on the point, the mayor said that the public advocate was “using his family to gain support” and concluded, “I think it’s pretty obvious to anyone watching what he’s doing.”
To many New Yorkers, it seemed that de Blasio was doing what all political candidates do, and what Bloomberg himself did during three races for mayor: surround himself with loved ones at what is an inherently trying time. The current mayor campaigned extensively with his spry, elderly mother in 2001. His daughters have also been frequently by his side. As Buzzfeed’s Andrew Kaczynski noted, Bloomberg emphasized his Jewish heritage in order to appeal to that pivotal New York constituency. The mayor’s double standard on this matter is curious.
Waging Nonviolence's Nathan Schneider offers a cautious welcome to de Blasio's winning the primary, writing
De Blasio surged ahead to the front of a crowded race in recent weeks by fashioning himself as champion of the downtrodden — to the point of getting himself arrested in protest of a hospital closure. In his youth, he was active in struggles against U.S. military policy in Latin America and nuclear power plants, and more recently, he has made overtures to sympathizers of Occupy Wall Street. In August he told The Wall Street Journal that “As mayor … I would work to build spaces where OWS and government officials could communicate and discuss ways to address their demands.” He has also been highly critical of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s brute-force method of eliminating the occupation at Zuccotti Park, calling it, in an interview with The Nation, “a very troubling precedent.”
However, Schneider points out, "de Blasio’s enthusiasm for [OWS] was tempered," and warns that "Those working to transform politics from the ground up in New York City should beware of making the same mistake" as was made by some on the left in the early part of Obama's presidency "of taking a break from movement-building."