Thursday Sep 14, 2017
NEW YORK: While he may lack the charisma of his predecessors, the Democratic New York mayor who sees himself as an antidote to Donald Trump has a solid head start to his re-election campaign.
New York is the US president's hometown, but the Republican is deeply unpopular in the city that is one of America's most progressive where 80 percent of voters cast ballots for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.
With nearly all ballots counted, Bill de Blasio — who took over from Michael Bloomberg in 2015 — scored 74.6 percent support in Tuesday's Democratic primary among a field of largely unknown candidates.
The next best candidate got less than 15 percent support in a vote marked by one of the highest abstention rates since the 1960s.
De Blasio, a 56-year-old Italian American, will face off on November 7 against ex-policeman Bo Dietl, an independent who distinguishes himself with his flowery speeches, and 36-year-old Republican Nicole Malliotakis, a pro-Trump Republican.
The incumbent mayor's opponents face a big fundraising gap that could doom their bids. De Blasio has already raised more than $5 million for his campaign, compared to nearly $500,000 for Malliotakis and almost $1 million for Dietl, 66, official campaign finance figures show.
De Blasio is the only candidate to have reached the threshold entitling him to additional public funds.
The main challenge for the Democrat, who speaks of fighting for the middle class and resisting Trump, is thus to keep up public interest in what is shaping up to be a lopsided election.
"I do not accept the status quo in this town. We've got more to do, my friends," de Blasio told supporters late Tuesday in Brooklyn.
"I'm not going to stop until we've built that fairer city."
De Blasio has been sharply criticized for insufficient action on the homeless and on housing, with exploding prices that are causing the middle class to look for homes outside the city.