When New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio began his mayoral campaign he was a dark horse candidate who was given little chance of winning. In a field that included Christine Quinn, Bill Thompson and Anthony Weiner, Mr. de Blasio was little more than a foot note. In June, he was running in a distant fourth place, polling just 10 percent of the vote to 25 percent for Weiner, 20 percent for Quinn and 13 percent for Thompson. However, by expressing concern about the racially discriminatory way in which the “stop and frisk” policy is being used, and by running an unabashed economically progressive campaign, voicing the concerns of the 99 percent, de Blasio has surged to a commanding lead in the mayoral race.
A Quinnipiac poll released on September 3rd, finds de Blasio polling 43 percent to 20 percent for Thompson, 18 percent for Quinn and 7 percent for Weiner. His polling numbers are particularly significant because if de Blasio clears 40 percent on Tuesday night’s primary, he will avoid a runoff election and become the Democratic nominee for mayor in New York City. The poll also reveals that de Blasio is receiving especially strong support from black voters (47 percent) and women voters (44 percent), despite facing an African-American (Thompson) and female (Quinn) candidate in the primary. The race is not being defined by identity politics as much as it is by ideas, and de Blasio is running a campaign that is populist, progressive and speaks to the concern of ordinary workers and residents of New York City.
In some respects, de Blasio is the quintessential anti-Bloomberg. Not a Manhattan billionaire, but a Brooklyn-based public advocate, de Blasio proposes a tax increase on the wealthy to better fund New York City schools. He is the only major candidate in the race whose children attend New York City public schools. Furthermore, he has been harshly critical of the New York Police Department’s racially discriminatory “stop and frisk” policy as it has operated under Bloomberg’s leadership. In so doing, de Blasio has aligned himself with the residents who have either been harassed or forgotten in Bloomberg’s version of Gotham City.
Bill de Blasio may well be on the path to a crushing victory on Tuesday not for pandering to the “fat cat” donors on Wall Street but for being sensitive to the concerns of Main Street. Well not Main Street literally, but to the concerns of the 99 percent who do not live or work on Wall Street, but who instead live on Roosevelt Avenue, Fordham Road, Frederick Douglas Boulevard, Richmond Terrace, Sutter Avenue and hundreds of other streets like them. On these streets where men, women and children work every day just to make ends meet, and where young adults and teens hope to be able to travel to work and school without being harassed by the police, de Blasio is finding a receptive pool of voters.
On Tuesday, the voters of New York City can send a message to Mayor Bloomberg, the insider traders and hedge managers on Wall Street, and the Chief of Police, that the city belongs not just to the financial elite and the mayor’s “stop and frisk” patrols, but that it belongs to all the residents of New York. If Bill de Blasio clears forty percent on Tuesday night it will not only be a stunning victory for a long shot underdog candidate, but it will also be a clear victory for the long suffering people of New York City who will vote to reclaim their city from the tone deaf elites who have ignored the concerns of ordinary people for far too long.
Image: Gotham Gazzette
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.