After Mayor Bill de Blasio swept up more than 70 percent of the vote in a Democratic primary many anticipated he would win — bringing him one step closer to re-election — he said he had made progress in his first term but would not “accept the status quo” and keep pressing for change.
At around 9:15 p.m., WNYC reported that de Blasio won 74.4 percent of the vote, with 317,091 votes, with 99 percent of precincts reporting. Former Brooklyn City Councilman Sal Albanese came in second, with 15.4 percent, or 65,437 votes.
Millennial tech entrepreneur Michael Tolkin came in third, with 4.7 percent of the vote, or 19,946 votes, and police reform activist Robert Gangi came in fourth, with 3.1 percent of the vote, or 13,299 votes. Lawyer Richard Basher came in last with 2.4 percent of the vote, or 10,270 votes.
But turnout was low, with 437,517 people voting in the primary, or less than 14 percent of 3.1 million active Democratic voters. The lowest turnout for a mayoral primary was in 2009, which saw a turnout of roughly 11 percent.
In 2013, 20 percent of registered Democrats voted in the primary, or roughly 691,000 people.
De Blasio will now face Staten Island Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, the presumptive GOP nominee, and9 former police detective Bo Dietl, who is running as an independent, in the November general election. And Albanese remains on the Reform Party line. Tolkin also plans to run on a different ballot.
“I wanna express something to you this evening, from my heart: I’ve always loved this city and as I’ve gone around these last four years and gotten know the city I love even more deeply, my love has grown for it,” de Blasio said before the 200-plus crowd of staffers and New York City residents at Roulette in Brooklyn. “My love for the people of this city has grown. My respect for the people of this city has grown. My optimism about the future of this city has grown.”
He insisted that while he has made progress, the city still has “more to do.”
“I’ve seen up close the challenges, too,” de Blasio continued. “I’ve seen the ways that we need to still build a fairer city and I’m not gonna stop until we build that fairer city for everyone. This city has to keep changing. We’ve begun that process, all of us together. We’ve begun the change but more change is needed. It must come, and together we will make sure that it will come.”
De Blasio has touted a record of first-term accomplishments that includes an overall decline in crime, universal prekindergarten, an affordable housing plan to build 200,000 units over the next decade he says is ahead of schedule and a reduction in police officers’ use of stop and frisk.
The mayor also says that by the end of the year, more than 280,000 men, women and children will rise out of poverty since he took office — five years ahead of schedule on the city’s goal to lift 800,000 people out of poverty by 2025.
In the months since President Donald took office, de Blasio has taken an aggressive stance. He has vowed to take legal action to protect the city’s status as a so-called “sanctuary city” for undocumented immigrants and Trump’s executive orders barring entry to people from Muslim-majority countries.
But the last three years have not been without headaches.
After year-long investigations into a potential pay-to-play scheme involving his definition political nonprofit Campaign for One New York and his failed 2014 fundraising effort for State Senate Democrats by now-former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara — eventually taken over by acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim — and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, the pair decided not to bring federal charges against de Blasio or his aides.
He has also caught flak for not moving as swiftly on police reform and his continued embracing of broken windows policing, a method that activists and some elected officials say disproportionately targets communities of color. He says it just needs to be updated and revised. He also won’t back the Right to Know Act, a package of police reform bills.
His wife, First Lady Chirlane McCray, who introduced him, touted her ThriveNYC initiative that addresses mental health, said that they have “a lot to do so we can keep on building a brighter city” but encouraged people to “take a moment to celebrate.”
“Tonight was a big night for your city and all that we’ve accomplished together,” McCray said. “We’ve come so far from when we launched our first campaign in our little yellow house in Brooklyn and our home is filled with so many memories.”
He ran down some newer proposals: a plan to create 100,000 good-paying jobs over the next 10 years, and a proposed millionaires tax on wealthy New Yorkers to fund subway repairs and reduced fares for low-income New Yorkers. He also touted the mansion tax to fund affordable housing for seniors, as well as his 3K for All proposal, which would provide free, quality education for three-year-olds.
He said that he will spend the last two months before the November general election talking about “what comes next,” noting that they have the “chance to make even bigger changes.” And he cautioned against listening to the words of what he called “doubting Thomas’s.”
“Well, we’ve seen a lot of things that were politically impossible happen in recent years, haven’t we?,” he said. “Some of them good, some of them not so good. But we don’t get limited by someone else’s idea of what’s possible and what’s not. We create our own reality as New Yorkers, don’t we? And if you get discourage at any point, then just look to our own history of what we’ve done together these four years.”
During the final part of his address, he briefly touched on Trump, only to say that “it hasn’t been the most helpful time” but that he will not get discouraged by what is occurring in Washington. And he reiterated that everything he “imagined” came to fruition, including his own underdog campaign that was in fourth place but ultimately won in 2013.
“We’ve got a lot more to change in this town but I believe we can make it real,” de Blasio concluded, to roaring applause.