By Gina Cherelus
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio scored a decisive victory on Tuesday in his bid to secure a second four-year term in charge of the United States’ biggest city.
With more than 75 percent of the city’s voting precincts reporting, de Blasio, 56, had won nearly 65 percent, a margin of 35 percentage points over his Republican opponent, state Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, according to New York City’s Board of Elections.
The New York Times and other media called the race for de Blasio.
De Blasio, who held a comfortable lead in opinion polls leading up to Election Day, had been widely expected to cruise to victory in a city of 8.5 million people dominated by Democratic voters.
A progressive liberal, de Blasio in the past week campaigned with U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, an independent. Sanders backed de Blasio’s call for a tax hike on city residents earning more than $500,000 a year, a measure with little chance of passing the state legislature in Albany.
The mayor has positioned himself as one of the most vocal critics of Republican President Donald Trump, who has received strong disapproval ratings from voters in his native city.
Daisy Taberas, 71, who immigrated from Peru 48 years ago, said she voted for de Blasio because of her concerns over Trump’s stance on immigration.
“I like the way (de Blasio) works with children in the schools, and he’s trying to protect the city and he cares about immigration,” Taberas said after casting her ballot at a Manhattan polling site.
De Blasio has taken heat for problems in the city’s aging subway system, the largest in the United States. The mayor, who has faced complaints over rising disruptions and delays on the subway system, has emphasized that it is run by a state-controlled authority, not the city.
He has also been plagued by accusations of a pay-to-play culture within City Hall. A former donor, Jona Rechnitz, recently testified at the corruption trial of a union boss that he established a direct line to the de Blasio administration after raising money for the mayor’s election campaign in 2013.
After years of investigation, federal prosecutors said in March they would not charge de Blasio, a point he reiterated on the campaign trail.
The mayor campaigned on his efforts to increase affordable housing, establish universal pre-kindergarten for 4-year-olds and maintain the city’s historically low crime rates.
(Reporting by Joseph Ax and Gina Cherelus in New York; Additional reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Scott Malone, Jonathan Oatis and Leslie Adler)