Big Change in the Big Metros

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From plutocrat to populist: after 12 years under billionaire businessman Michael Bloomberg, New Yorkers turned sharply left, electing the city's liberal public advocate, Bill de Blasio, by massive margins over Republican Joe Lhota. The vote suggests a backlash against the superrich and a new dawn of Democratic urban populism. An underdog in the primaries, de Blasio ran TV ads featuring his biracial family and challenged Bloomberg's legacy by opposing police profiling while vowing to raise taxes on the wealthy, which the outgoing mayor says would drive the biggest taxpayers away. But it's not Bloomberg's New York anymore.


Bill Clinton was a new President when retiring incumbent Tom Menino became Boston's mayor. Mayor-elect Marty Walsh embodies how the city has changed since. The son of Irish immigrants has familiar roots in the city's old power centers, including labor unions and clannish outer neighborhoods. But to overcome city councilor John Connolly's young, wealthy base in Boston's gentrifying core, Walsh had to unite lunch-bucket Democrats and labor activists with blacks, Hispanics and yuppie liberals. This diverse coalition had little in common--except for Walsh.


Despite its 82% black population, Motown made self-styled turnaround artist Mike Duggan the city's first white mayor in 40 years when he defeated Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon. With Detroit mired in bankruptcy, the former hospital executive will face a mighty test. That is, as soon as he can wrest back control of the troubled city from state officials who stepped in during the crisis.