Bill de Blasio elected mayor of New York; first Democrat to win since the 1980s

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NEW YORK — Public Advocate Bill de Blasio has been elected mayor of New York, becoming the first Democrat since 1989 to be chosen to lead the nation’s largest city.

De Blasio defeated Republican Joe Lhota (LOH’-tuh). De Blasio will succeed Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire who is leaving after 12 years.


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De Blasio ran on a liberal, tax-the-rich platform that was sharply at odds with Bloomberg’s pro-business, pro-development record.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

The casting of ballots Tuesday signaled the beginning of New York City’s farewell to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has helped shape the nation’s biggest city for 12 years, largely setting aside partisan politics as he led with data-driven beliefs and his vast fortune.

Republican Joe Lhota, a onetime deputy mayor to Rudolph Giuliani, has vowed that he will largely continue Bloomberg’s policies, which have helped make New York one of the nation’s safest and most prosperous big cities, though they also may have contributed to the city’s widening income equality gap.

But while polls show that New Yorkers largely approve of Bloomberg’s record, those same surveys show a hunger for a change in style and tone, which is why Bill de Blasio is poised to become the first Democrat elected mayor in more than a generation.

De Blasio, who as the city’s elected public advocate acts as an official watchdog, has positioned himself as a clean break with the Bloomberg years, promoting a sweeping liberal agenda that includes a tax increase on the wealthy to pay for universal pre-kindergarten and improved police-community relations.

“I’m calling for fundamental progressive change,” de Blasio said Tuesday morning as he voted near his Brooklyn home.

For his part, Lhota said as he voted that he was “very optimistic” about the race.

De Blasio, 52, has been up nearly 40 percentage points in every survey conducted since the general election matchup was set nearly two months ago. His day had a valedictory feel. He was surprised early in the morning by his daughter Chiara, who returned home unannounced from her West Coast college to join her father.

And his final campaign rally at a Brooklyn subway stop was mobbed by reporters and onlookers as he posed for cellphone photos and touted Democratic candidates farther down the ballot.

That stop, in the Crown Heights neighborhood, may have had symbolic value for de Blasio - it was where a 1991 riot in that neighborhood helped doom the administration of the last Democratic mayor, David Dinkins. De Blasio was an aide to Dinkins.

Lhota, meanwhile, campaigned with Giuliani at a Manhattan subway stop before casting his ballot near his Brooklyn Heights home. Lhota had to vote by affidavit ballot in the September primary after a voting machine broke, but he successfully used the new optical scan machine on Tuesday.

There were scattered reports of problems with the $95 million machines forcing voters to use the back-up ballots. A Board of Elections spokeswoman said the problems were not widespread.

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