Bill de Blasio Declares Victory: ‘All of Our Work Is Just Beginning’

Bill de Blasio celebrates his victory. (Photo: Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Bill de Blasio celebrates his victory. (Photo: Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Bill de Blasio, the city’s public advocate, declared victory tonight in the mayor’s race, winning one of the most decisive margins in recent history and returning Democratic rule to City Hall for the first time in 20 years.

“My fellow New Yorker: 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 Yorkers behind,” Mr. de Blasio told a cheering crowd more than 4,000 strong gathered in the cavernous Park Slope Armory, not far from his home.

In his remarks, Mr. de Blasio spoke extensively about his campaign themes, including the need to tackle rising income inequality to ensure that all residents, from every neighborhood, have a chance to succeed. He also took time to acknowledge critics who have argued that his goals will be an uphill battle–insisting he is prepared for the challenge ahead.

“All of our work is really just beginning and we have no illusions about the task that lies ahead,” he told them. “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. But make no mistake,” he declared, “the people of this city have chosen a progressive path and tonight, we set forth on it, together, as one city.”

“We reach our greatest heights when we all rise together,” he concluded.

Mr. de Blasio, who peppered his speech with both Spanish and Italian, was introduced by his wife, Chirlane McCray, and spoke flanked his now-famous son Dante, and his daughter Chiara, who were dressed in matching red. “They make me proud every single day. And, my fellow New Yorkers, they are very stylish,” he said.

The family ended their appearance with an air kiss to crowd–but then returned for an encore, performing their signature dance, the “smackdown,” to the crowd.

The night marked the end of a long journey for Mr. de Blasio that had a surprisingly quick ending. The night’s results were projected by NY1 immediately after the polls closed at 9 p.m.–before a single vote had been counted and supporters were allowed into the party.

But by the time they filed into the hanger-like space, the enthusiasm was palpable.

“I’m happy, happy, happy! It’s very exciting! Oh my God!” gushed Lorna Blake, 55, a longtime supporter from Mr. de Blasio’s City Council days. When the results were announced, she said, supporters outside the building burst into cheers, jumping up and down like it was New Year’s Eve. “It was like a chill that leaves your body,” she said. “I’m so proud. I can’t wait for him to start.”

The crowd.

The crowd.

Aron Govil, 50, another supporter, marveled at Mr. de Blasio’s rise from behind, insisting that he knew “there was something about” Mr. de Blasio that made him feel he could win.

“We knew it was gonna happen. It was like the Kentucky Derby. In the last minute, the race horse just takes off in that final quarter … That’s what he did,” he said, describing the victory as “unbelievable,” especially since the family is so down-to-earth. “He’s like a normal person and now he’s going to be a mayor.”

Seth Slade, 49, who used to live on the de Blasios’ Park Slope block, stressed that Mr. de Blasio’s background would be a plus in Gracie Mansion. “It’s exciting. A real Democrat. Someone who isn’t a billionaire, someone who sends his kids to public schools. Bill is just more representative of this city,” he said.

Mr. de Blasio, a relative unknown before the race, had been all but dismissed in the early polls, but mounted a stunning surge to the front of a pack in the final month of the Democratic primary, clearing a field of far better-known primary foes.

Seizing on growing frustrations with the current administration, the former city councilman and campaign operative promised a clean break from the Manhattan-centric Bloomberg years, vowing to address the growing income inequality he said had created a “tale of two cities” and to reform the controversial stop-and-frisk police tactic. And the message resonated.

After decisively winning the democratic nomination, Mr. de Blasio treated the general much like a victory lap, dramatically scaling back his public events, where he was treated like a rock star.

He will take office at 12:01 a.m. on January 1st, 2014.