Finally: A Liberal Mayor for New York

New York City is on the verge of electing its first progressive mayor in a generation.

In most polls, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio is well over the 40 percent threshold required to avoid a runoff in the Democratic Primary. And in the Big Apple, the Democratic nomination is tantamount to a win. Even if he is pushed into a runoff, DeBlasio is strongly favored to come out on top.

The early front runner, Christine Quinn, stumbled badly, partly because of her close association with Mayor Michael Bloomberg. As city council chair, Quinn was the key enabler of Bloomberg’s overriding of the city’s term limits law. All of Bloomberg’s latent unpopularity among the non-affluent began culminating during his final months in office, and it cascaded onto the unfortunate Quinn. Even among women, she has only 19 percent support in the polls.

Quinn had been poised to become not only New York’s first female mayor but its first lesbian mayor. But that historic breakthrough is on the verge of being sidelined by another breakthrough. De Blasio, who is married to a black woman (and former lesbian) has successfully campaigned as representative of New York’s mosaic, campaigning with his biracial kids, and criticizing the city’s hated stop-and-frisk law.

It has been a generation since New York elected a flat-out progressive. Which raises the question of why a town of well known liberal views, stunning ethnic diversity, and a strong labor movement, keeps electing conservatives and quasi-conservatives like Rudy Giuliani, Ed Koch, and most recently Michael Bloomberg. Another question is how much difference a mayor can make, given the city’s limited fiscal powers and dependence on national economic trends.

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