What's next for the Mayor-Elect?

Bill Ritter's daily take on the news.

November 6, 2013 1:43:16 PM PST
There's this great scene in the 1972 movie "The Candidate" where Robert Redford is running for the U.S. Senate, having never before run for office. He's a long-shot, but comes out of nowhere to win the election.

The end of the movie shows him, more than a little stunned, turning to his political consultant and asking, "what do we do now?"

It's a classic movie scene, and it's been on my mind today, thinking about Bill de Blasio, the man New Yorkers elected last night as their next Mayor. In fact, they elected him by the widest margin ever for an open Mayor's race ? 73 to 24 percent.

So what does he do now? He has plenty of ideas, progressive ideas that clearly resonated with New Yorkers. At least the New Yorkers who voted ? because only 23 percent of registered voters actually cast a ballot. That's a record low. And to think that back in 1953, 93 percent of registered New Yorkers voted for Mayor!

They say political office tends to move elected officials towards the center, and it will be fascinating to see how de Blasio morphs from the I'm-mad-as-hell over the tale-of-two-cities candidate into a Mayor of the country's biggest city, with an economy largely driven by Wall Street and the 1 percent.

He may have blasted the less-than-delicate manner in which Bloomberg said he'd welcome more billionaires into New York, but the hard truth is the more billionaires, the more tax revenue for the City. And what Mayor wouldn't want that?

De Blasio's victory ? even with the incredibly low turnout ? was impressive nonetheless. He handily won every demographic except one ? those who call themselves conservatives. He clobbered Republican Joe Lhota in every other category ? women, men, religions, income, education. He clearly has a mandate; what's not so clear is what the mandate is.

Also not clear ? how much he can do with the relatively small amount of the City's huge budget that is discretionary. Of the $70 billion budget, only 10 percent isn't mandated expenditures. One suggestion ? and it's unlikely de Blasio would take this ? is to appoint Joe Lhota as one of his deputy mayors. After all, the Mayor-elect has not much management experience ? unless you consider being in charge of the $2 million-a-year budget for the Public Advocate's office management experience.

But it does appear that experience in office is no longer much of a requirement for getting elected these days. When George W. Bush was elected President, the rap against him was that he had very little experience. After all, he was just the Governor of Texas, a state with a part-time legislature. But then Barack Obama was elected, with just a couple of years experience as U.S. Senator, and no executive experience.

So it will be fascinating to see how de Blasio reacts to this huge job, and how he tackles the steep learning curve he faces. Nothing less than the future of the nation's biggest city and its 8-million-plus residents are at stake.

Tonight at 11, we'll have reaction and the latest on the election.

We're also in Paramus, where there are questions about the 9-1-1 system and how emergency phone operators handled cell phone calls from the panicked shoppers and workers at the Garden State Plaza Mall during Monday's shooting. Jim Dolan is taking a closer look for us.

And was Yasser Arafat murdered? New evidence tonight ? reported by Al Jazeera ? that Arafat didn't die from any disease but was instead poisoned with a rare chemical called polonium. Wow. There have been rumors about this for years, but now there's been a scientist's evaluation of what happened to Arafat and tests that were conducted on his exhumed body.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Meteorologist Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Rob Powers with the night's sports. I hope you can join Sade Baderinwa and me, tonight at 11.

Bill Ritter


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