- Capital New York
- The de Blasio Family outside their Park Slope home
We all know that, culturally, Brooklyn is on the rise and Manhattan is on the decline; we’re still the county to visit for the new and cutting edge in food, arts and other forms of culture—the things we write about here every day. But our borough’s ascendancy isn’t just in the creative sphere—it’s also, as last night’s election attested, in the political. In all but one of yesterday’s four citywide races, the winning candidates live in Brooklyn and most came out of Brooklyn politics. Bill de Blasio, who may still pull off a wide-enough victory to take the Democratic mayoral nomination without a run-off, lives in Park Slope (an avenue away from my old apartment! #team11thst); and Republican mayoral candidate Joe Lhota lives in Brooklyn Heights, making this year’s election a battle between Brooklynites for the first time since… gosh, I have no idea! Maybe ever? Meanwhile, the two top-scoring candidates for public advocate, Daniel Squadron and Letitia James, are both Brooklynites; the only race without a Kings County victor was the one for comptroller, which was between two Manhattanites.
It’s like Brooklyn is shedding its “outerborough” rep and becoming a partner in governance—an extension of “The City.” Part of this shift probably results from the borough’s weird confluence of two groups: as Erroll Louis mentioned on NY1 last night, the power center of black politics in New York has shifted from Harlem to Central Brooklyn while well-off and influential New Yorkers continue to migrate across the river. The “Tale of Two Cities” theme that has been at the center of de Blasio’s campaign plays out in Brooklyn, where the ballyhooed cultural and economic revival is still limited to just half the borough (at most). We have a share of the wealthy and powerful as well as the union rank-and-file, thus we’re in a position to crown our own: de Blasio is currently the whole city’s public advocate, but he was once a councilmember from South Brooklyn; Daniel Squadron is a Carroll Gardens state senator; and Letitia James is an outgoing councilmember who lives in Clinton Hill.
If yesterday’s vote was a referendum on the Bloomberg years, and a signal that New Yorkers are ready to move in a new direction, you could easily describe that change as a move from his 1-percenter Manhattancentrism to something a bit more Brooklyn, with all the stereotypes and cliches that signifies.
Follow Henry Stewart on Twitter @henrycstewart