Bill de Blasio, in a landslide victory, has been elected as the city’s first Democratic mayor in two decades.
With 99 percent of the precincts reporting, de Blasio won Tuesday’s race with 73 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results. His Republican opponent, Joe Lhota, had 24 percent.
“Today, you spoke out loudly and clearly for a new direction for our city, united by a belief that our city should leave no New Yorker behind,” de Blasio said in his victory speech.
“Tackling inequality isn’t easy; it never has been and it never will be. The challenges we face have been decades in the making, and the problems we set out to address will not be solved overnight,” he added.
“But make no mistake: the people of this city have chosen a progressive path, and tonight we set forth on it, together, as one city.”
As far back as late June, polls still showed de Blasio, the city’s public advocate, finishing fourth in the Democratic primary.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn was the early front-runner, but when former Congressmember Anthony Weiner entered the Democratic primary in May, her lead shrunk in the polls.
Weiner, however, soon faced another sexting scandal, and he lost favorability with voters.
In July, de Blasio started to gain in the polls, and took the lead away from Quinn the following month.
De Blasio’s surge in the polls coincided with the release of a campaign ad starring his teenage son Dante, whose Afro took center stage.
His momentum continued until the primary, where de Blasio beat second-place finisher, former City Comptroller Bill Thompson by a significant lead.
But, with de Blasio still hovering around the 40 percent threshold needed to avoid an October 1 runoff, Thompson would not concede on primary night.
Thompson dropped out of the race six days later, and in late September the Board of Elections certified de Blasio the official Democratic nominee with just over 40 percent.
Lhota, the ex-MTA chairman and former deputy mayor under Rudy Giuliani, easily secured the Republican nomination with 53 percent of the vote, topping grocery store mogul John Catsimatidis and Doe Fund founder George McDonald.
But Lhota’s success within his own party could not be replicated in the general election.
“We are five boroughs, but we are one city. We are one people and we want our city to move forward, not backwards. And I do hope our mayor-elect understands this before it’s too late,” said Lhota, conceding the race.
“It’s natural tonight to feel some disappointment. But tomorrow we must move beyond it. It was a good fight and it was a fight worth having,” he continued.
With a heavy Democratic electorate in the city, early on polls showed de Blasio beating Lhota by a wide margin.
The heated battle between the two and their different visions for the city were evident throughout the general election campaign and the three debates between the candidates, where they clashed on a range of issues, including taxes, education and crime.
Though Lhota promised a safer city under his watch, suggesting crime would go up under a de Blasio administration, voters ultimately favored de Blasio’s progressive message and saw him as a break from the Bloomberg years.
-With additional reporting by Meaghan McGoldrick
Updated 2:12 a.m.