The biggest winner in last night’s primary was the Working Families Party, whose candidates lead the pack in the public advocate and comptroller races, while nearly their entire slate of City Council candidates was swept into office.
The leaders of the Working Families Party converged at the Water Street Restaurant & Lounge in Dumbo, site of the victory party for Bill de Blasio, the City Councilman from Brooklyn whose first-place showing I the public advocate race was their biggest feat.
Around midnight, outside the restaurant, de Blasio walked over to Bill Lipton, the deputy director of the W.F.P. and said, “Can you explain these numbers? This wasn’t the model.” Everyone laughed. De Blasio hugged Lipton, then wandered off.
Earlier in the evening, I chatted with de Blasio as Jay-Z music blared from the speakers and well-wishers shoved plastic cups of alcohol in each other’s hands.
“Clearly a lot of people responded to the fact that I had led the opposition on term limits. And a lot of people wanted someone who can be strong in standing up to the mayor when he’s wrong,” de Blasio said.
When I asked about what this meant for the Working Families Party, de Blasio described them less as a singular entity and more of a patchwork of independent pieces that came together.
“They are a coalition of a lot of important organizations. The victories tonight are also the victories of 1199, 32BJ, the UFT and a lot of other organizations,” he said. “So, I don’t think people should dismiss the fact that this was the sum of a whole bunch of parts.”
I asked if tonight’s results meant that the W.F.P. label is more important to candidates now, relative to the benefits of being a Democrat.
“I think the Democratic Party label is very, very important in this town,” he said. When voters looked at his literature, de Blasio said, “the first thing they wanted to verify was that I was a Democrat.”
He invoked President Obama and the current fight over health care, and said, “Being a Democrat means a lot to people. I think the Working Families Party says something very powerful to progressive people all over this city. It has a reformist message, a change message. I think it’s influential in that level. But in the end, you know, people want to know if a candidate is a Democrat.”