Political Messages From Last Night's Elections? Mixed

It was the proverbial "good news, bad news" in last night's election results.

Let's start with the good news.

Bill DeBlasio, an unabashed progressive with a biracial family, won the Democratic nomination for New York City's mayoral race last night. (Although he won by a substantial margin, it was a crowded field and under NYC's election law, he may face a runoff.) But victory is victory:

The result was a resounding vindication for De Blasio's unconventional approach to the New York mayoral race in which he cut across traditional racial and ethnic lines to build what the Guardian analyst Harry Enten called "the most diverse coalition in modern history". Key to his success, propelled from a little-known fourth place contender just a few weeks ago to his party's front-runner, was his message of a "tale of two cities" – an implicit attack on the style of leadership of the current mayor, billionaire Michael Bloomberg.

In his victory speech, delivered in his home neighbourhood of Park Slope, Brooklyn, De Blasio returned to the theme tune of his campaign, promising an alternative to the Bloomberg era. New York, he said, had become "a tale of two cities – one where the very wealthy had not only rebounded from the great recession but life couldn't get much better for them, and another New York where nearly half are living on or near the poverty line, where luxury condos replace community hospitals, where pro-active policing has slipped into racial profiling."

De Blasio, 52, the city's current public advocate, used a vociferous assault on the "stop and frisk" policy promoted by Bloomberg and his police chief, Ray Kelly, to position himself as the liberal choice and to force the previous Democratic front-runner, Christine Quinn, to defend herself against accusations she was too close to the incumbent mayor.

The devastating impact of De Blasio's strategy was underlined by exit polls: Democratic primary voters who think "stop and frisk" is excessive swung behind him by a whopping 56%, while Quinn was backd by only 7% of black voters, who are overwhelmingly on the receiving end of the aggressive policing policy.

He'll face Republican Joe Lhota in the fall.

Now for the bad news. In recall elections pushed by the NRA and the right wing, two Colorado state senators were recalled from office and replaced with Republicans:

Two Democratic state lawmakers who backed tighter gun laws in the aftermath of mass shootings in Colorado and Connecticut have been voted out of office in a recall election promoted by both grassroots activists and an influential gun-rights lobbying group.

Colorado Senate president John Morse lost by just 343 votes on Tuesday in a swing district in the Republican stronghold of Colorado Springs while fellow state senator Angela Giron lost by a bigger margin in a largely blue-collar district that usually favours Democrats.

The National Rifle Association said the election sent a clear message to lawmakers that they should protect gun rights and be accountable to their constituents, not to "anti-gun billionaires" – a swipe at the New York mayor, Michael Bloomberg, who supported Giron and Morse.

Democrats will still maintain control of the state legislature and the laws are expected to remain in place. "The loss of this senate seat is purely symbolic," Morse said.

Angered by new limits of 15 rounds for ammunition magazines and expanded background checks on private gun sales, gun-rights activists tried to recall a total of four lawmakers but only succeeded in launching efforts against two. It was the first for state legislators since Colorado adopted the procedure in 1912.

The recalls were seen as the latest chapter in the national debate over gun rights – and, for some, a warning to lawmakers in swing states who might contemplate gun restrictions in the future.

Time is on our side, just like it was with marriage. We'll get there, just not yet.

About Susie Madrak

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