NEW YORK — Bill de Blasio campaigned for mayor here as a proud progressive. The Democrat called for raising taxes on the rich and expanding affordable housing for the poor. He ran against the city’s establishment with “a tale of two cities” theme: The moneyed Manhattan elite have had their mayor, de Blasio argued, and the 46 percent of New Yorkers living at or near the poverty level need one of their own.
If, as is widely expected, de Blasio cruises to a landslide victory in Tuesday’s city election, he will usher in a new era of activist liberal governance in the nation’s largest city.
But de Blasio, who would be sworn in on Jan. 1 if he wins, will face a series of immediate challenges as he takes charge of a city government with some 300,000 employees, a $70 billion budget and a dizzying web of intersecting interests.
The new mayor will need to negotiate several city labor contracts that are due for renewal and overhaul the leadership of city agencies, beginning with the New York Police Department, which he has sharply criticized for the anti-crime policy known as “stop and frisk.” He also will encounter serious obstacles to his tax policy agenda beyond the borders of his overwhelmingly Democratic city, including potential opposition from Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The de Blasio administration would become a laboratory for modern progressivism — a test of whether an anti-establishment activist can effectively manage a sprawling municipal government and whether his policy prescriptions can actually lessen growing inequality between the rich and the poor.
“Throughout this campaign I have said we are living a tale of two cities,” de Blasio said at a Monday rally in a Queens housing complex. “It’s a reality we all see with our eyes. We know that some people are doing well in this town and most people are struggling. And it is our mission, it is our sacred obligation, to lift their burden in any way we can.”
Despite New York’s overwhelmingly liberal tilt, de Blasio is poised to become New York’s first Democratic mayor in 20 years. He will follow the three-term reign of billionaire Michael Bloomberg, a Republican-turned-independent, and Rudy Giuliani, a law-and-order Republican who led the city as it recovered from the 9/11 attacks.
Joe Lhota, the Republican candidate, has run as a continuation of the Bloomberg years while attacking de Blasio as a leftist, anti-police extremist. The New York Post featured de Blasio on its front page Monday above the headline, “Back to the USSR!” — a reference to a student trip by de Blasio to the Soviet Union 30 years ago.
What else do you need to know about this guy??
How long till NYC needs another Federal bailout??