It was DeBlasio by a landslide.
The Democratic mayoral contender’s margin of victory on Tuesday night was so massive that Republican opponent Joe Lhota conceded less than half an hour after the polls closed, with just three percent of the votes tallied. DeBlasio ultimately sailed to a historic 49 percent victory, with 100 percent of precincts reporting, the cleanest sweep since Edward Koch won a third term in 1985 and a record for a non-incumbent candidate.
And the history-making did not stop there. The six-foot-five-inch-tall former Park Slope councilman who defined his campaign with populist rhetoric will be the first Brooklynite mayor since Abe Beame, who left office in 1977, the first Democrat in two decades, and the tallest city executive in living memory.
“We reach the greatest heights when we all rise together,” the mayor-elect said, towering over a jubilant crowd at the Park Slope Armory.
His rival Lhota, of Brooklyn Heights, conceded quietly, wiping back tears, but never backed down from his doomsday warning that DeBlasio’s policies are an express ticket back to the Bad Old Days of the 1970s and 1980s.
“We want our city to move forward, not backwards,” Lhota said in his concession speech. “I do hope that our new mayor-elect understands that before it’s too late.”
At DeBlasio’s victory bash, the winner reiterated his pledges to combat economic inequality by taxing rich people, providing universal prekindergarten, ending racial profiling by police, and fighting to keep hospitals from being closed to make way for luxury condos, as activists and judges have said the state wants to do with Brooklyn’s Long Island College Hospital.
“The feeling of a few doing well while the rest slip further behind is the defining challenge of our times,” DeBlasio said to cheers.
Fighting to keep the Cobble Hill hospital and Interfaith Medical Center in Bedford-Stuyvesant open in the face of state closure plans in his role as public advocate has been a signature effort of his campaign — he has gone so far as to get arrested protesting the shuttering — and a group of hospital staffers came out on Tuesday night to show their appreciation.
“Bill Deblasio is standing for the working class, for the people who built this country,” said Anthony Ciampa, a member of the New York State Nurse Association’s board of directors. “He stood side by side with us.”
But DeBlasio now faces the test of how far he will take that fight, as he will have to work hand-in-hand with Gov. Cuomo, his former boss at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, who is now in control of the state university and health department that is trying to shut the hospital down.
DeBlasio demurred on Friday when this paper asked him what Cuomo was saying about the hospital’s fate, but the governor was more than happy to shower the hizzoner-to-be with accolades as the winning ballots rolled in.
“Tonight New York City voters have opened an exciting new chapter in our state’s largest city with the election of incoming Mayor Bill de Blasio,” Cuomo said in a statement. “On a personal level, it is particularly gratifying to see Bill, a true friend and former colleague, win tonight.
The Sloper’s ascent to the city’s highest office also signals a changing of the guard in the Office of the Public Advocate, where Fort Greene Councilwoman Letitia James will take over in January after demolishing a packed field of third-party contenders, becoming the first African-American woman to hold a citywide position and cementing a Democratic hold on city politics, though she said that she will not be DeBlasio’s puppet.
“Bill and I are very good friends but when we disagree I will certainly raise my voice,” James told WNYC host Brian Lehrer.
James threw her party at Gowans’s SRB Brooklyn, five blocks from DeBlasio’s bash, so that people could walk between the two, she said.
“We did not want to inconvenience New Yorkers,” she explained.
As if you had not heard enough milestones already, next year will mark the first time in the 20-year history of the advocate position that the in-house agitator will belong to the same party as the mayor. (Incidentally, as advocate, James would replace DeBlasio should something happen to the big man in City Hall Park.)
But the firsts do not stop there. State Sen. Eric Adams coasted to victory in the Brooklyn borough president race over his Conservative Party foe Elias Weir and will become the first black politician to occupy the big office at Borough Hall.
And while we are on the subject of borough presidents, Manhattan Beep Scott Stringer, who famously returned campaign cash from an indicted developer when our own Marty Markowitz would not, is set to become the city’s next comptroller after bringing home 80 percent of the electoral bacon.