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Bill de Blasio's Win in NYC a Landmark in U.S. History

Dorothy Rowley | 11/27/2013, 1 p.m.
When Bill de Blasio takes over as mayor of New York City on Jan. 1, it will mark another milestone ...
New York City Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio and his wife Chirlane McCray (courtesy of billdeblasio.com)

When Bill de Blasio takes over as mayor of New York City on Jan. 1, it will mark another milestone in U.S. history — a white politician elected to a major office sworn in with a black spouse at their side.

As de Blasio, 59, settles in, his wife, Chirlane McCray, who said she serves as her husband's "sounding board," is poised to play a key role in his administration.

After a recent city forum to gather ideas for the incoming administration, McCray, 65, who's been married to de Blasio since 1994, said she was impressed with the public's feedback for the new mayor.

"I like the idea that so many people have logged their opinions and talked about what their priorities are for the city and the direction the city should go in," McCray told reporters on Nov. 19. "When you add all of that up it's going to be a very interesting portrait of where the city is now and what people care about."

Some speculated that the makeup of de Blasio's interracial family played a major role in his victory, but Michael Fauntroy, who teaches political science at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., said the win hinged on several components.

"It wasn't just race. For example, some of the country like New York is much more open-minded when it comes to race than even before," Fauntroy said. "It's also true that he benefited from relative recomposition, so I don't think there's any one simple explanation on why he won."

De Blasio, a Democrat from Manhattan and father of two children with McCray, entered the mayoral campaign with little name recognition.

During the Nov. 5 election, he won 95 percent of the black vote, more than 8 of 10 Hispanic votes, and 52 percent of the white vote, according to one exit poll.