Ten Surprising Things About New York City's Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio
Bill deBlasio changed his last name to his mother's maiden name.
Nov. 6, 2013 -- intro: After winning by a landslide on Tuesday, Bill de Blasio will soon be the mayor of the Big Apple. De Blasio's ascent to the mayor's office came after his surprising win in the Democratic primary followed by Tuesday's trouncing of his Republican challenger, Joe Lhota.
New Yorkers have already had some time to get to know the city's public advocate who will succeed current Mayor Michael Bloomberg, but here are 10 things the rest of us may not know about the mayor-elect of the largest city in the country:
quicklist:title: His Son May Have Won Him The Racetext: Over the summer, Bill de Blasio seemed like a long shot. But a campaign commercial featuring De Blasio's teenage son, Dante, propelled him to the forefront of the race.
"Bill de Blasio will be a mayor for every New Yorker, no matter where they live or what they look like and I'd say that even if he weren't my dad," Dante said.
The ad was praised for its authenticity and the New York Times credited it with "transforming the fortunes of a fourth-place campaign and confirming the convictions of a long-shot politician who had banked his candidacy on a series of big bets." Dante's 'fro even got a shoutout from President Obama at a campaign event: "My Afro was never that good," the president said, confessing, "It was a little imbalanced."
quicklist:title: His Wife Is A Former Lesbiantext: De Blasio's wife, writer and poet Chirlane McCray, was once a lesbian. McCray published a groundbreaking article in Essence magazine in 1979, titled "I Am a Lesbian," heralded by Essence as "a revelation, perhaps the first time a black gay woman had spoken so openly and honestly about her sexuality in a black magazine."
When recently asked how she went from being a lesbian to falling in love with Bill, she told Essence, "By putting aside the assumptions I had about the form and package my love would come in. By letting myself be as free as I felt when I went natural." Bill says that both his family and her family were "more than surprised" by the marriage.
quicklist:title: He's A Red Sox Fantext: The new leader of New York City makes no apologies for his Massachusetts roots. Born in New York but raised in Cambridge, Mass., de Blasio has been described by the New York Times as a "die-hard fan of the Boston Red Sox, the kind of enthusiast reviled across the five boroughs."
There was no Yankees trash talk on the campaign trail, but don't expect him to convert: De Blasio told the Times that he has "loyalty to the team of my youth." Appearing at a campaign event one day after the World Series win, de Blasio played it off: "It was something very special last night and I was very proud of the team I root for."
quicklist:title: He Had 'Sex' On His Sidetext: "Sex and the City" star Cynthia Nixon was an active spokesperson for de Blasio, appearing in ads and at campaign events around New York City. "I feel like he's the left-wing future of politics," Nixon told the New York Daily News. "Mr. Big" Chris Noth also advocated for the mayor. "I want a mayor who cares about all New Yorkers," Noth said in an ad.
quicklist:title: He Will Be The First Democrat To Lead New York City In Two Decadestext: After 12 years with Mayor Michael Bloomberg in charge, de Blasio is the first Democratic mayor since David Dinkins, who left office in 1993. The newly-elected mayor promised an "unapologetically progressive alternative to the Bloomberg era."
De Blasio's campaign emphasized his opposition to "stop and frisk" policies in New York City, and a promise to tax the rich to fund education. New Yorkers should expect a shift in the political winds after the Bloomberg era.
quicklist:title: He Works Outtext: New York Magazine caught up with de Blasio at home during the campaign: "He's just back from his daily workout at the 9th Street Y and wearing a frayed, sweat-soaked blue T-shirt and baggy gray sweatpants."
quicklist:title: Hillary Clinton Is Ready For Himtext: De Blasio is no stranger to the Clinton clan: In fact, he was Hillary Clinton's campaign manager for her 2000 Senate campaign. Clinton endorsed the de Blasio campaign and appeared at a fundraising event in late October that raised over $1 million.
"I was very, very gratified by her endorsement, I was very gratified by what she said about the time that we worked together. And I think particularly meaningful to me was she really rallied the crowd and really made clear to people how much we need to finish this campaign strong and how much it mattered," de Blasio told WABC.
quicklist:title: He Wasn't Always A 'De Blasio'text: Bill de Blasio was born Warren Wilhelm, Jr., in 1961 to Maria de Blasio Wilhelm and Warren Wilhelm, a World War II veteran. "My dad first left home, and then my parents got divorced, so pretty much by the time I was 7, you know it was clear things were breaking apart," de Blasio says of his childhood. The future mayor ultimately chose to legally change his name to reflect his mother's maiden name in 2002.
quicklist:title: He Almost Faced Expulsion As A Student Activist text: The politician was once an outspoken activist as a student at New York University, advocating against tuition hikes, marching against nuclear proliferation, and seeking student representation on the board of trustees, according to the New York Daily News.
De Blasio was part of a tuition increase protest in March 1983. The New York Daily News reported that "security guards took down [protesters'] names and ID numbers, and denied them entry to the meeting," noting that "coalition members acknowledged they were threatened with expulsion if they held the protest."
quicklist:title: He's Really, Really Talltext: The 6-foot-5 de Blasio towers over his predecessor, Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The New York Times reported that "Mr. Bloomberg's height has been reported as being anywhere from 5-feet-6 (in news articles) to 5-feet-10 (on his driver's license)." Comedy Central's Jon Stewart pointed out that the 2014 swearing-in ceremony will likely showcase the "greatest incumbent-successor size discrepancy."