Democrats have retaken leadership in New York City and Virginia. However, a Republican with potential presidential hopes won re-election easily in New Jersey.
Bill de Blasio, 52, will become New York's first Democratic mayor since Rudolph Giuliani took office in 1994. The public advocate had run on a platform to reduce economic inequality in the largest US city, promising to raise taxes and increase spending on social programs.
"Thank you, New York City," de Blasio's campaign tweeted after polls closed on Tuesday.
De Blasio had enjoyed a 41-point lead over his opponent in the run-up to the election. However, even the lopsided polls fell short of the end result: de Blasio won with a nearly 50-point margin, defeating Republican Joe Lhota 73.7 percent to 23.9 percent.
Across the river
New Jersey's Republican Governor Chris Christie defeated Democratic challenger State Senator Barbara Buono, winning a second four-year term in a race some predicted could serve as a platform for a future presidential bid. He cruised to a landslide win, 60.5 percent to 38 percent, even though many in his party at the national level consider him relatively moderate.
"We stand here tonight showing that it is possible to put doing your job first, to put working together first, to fight for what you believe in yet still stand by your principles and get something done for the people who elected you," Christie said at a victory rally.
Tuesday's vote served as the first major round of balloting in the United States since President Barack Obama won a second term in the White House last year, and, though the races in New York City and New Jersey were never really in question, some elections could prove litmus tests for future national voting.
One such test was in the Southern state of Virginia, where the race for the governorship turned into a nail-biter. However, Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe won in the otherwise strongly Republican state bordering the nation's capital over Ken Cuccinelli, backed by the ultraconservative Tea Party movement. He won with a margin of just 48 percent to 45.5 percent.
"Over the next four years most Democrats and Republicans want to make Virginia a model of pragmatic leadership," McAuliffe said in his victory speech. "This is only possible if Virginia is the model for bipartisan cooperation."
About 70 percent of voters in the East Coast city of Portland, Maine, elected to legalize possession of small amounts of marijuana for recreational possession by people older than 21, joining other cities that have recently done so. And in Colorado, which legalized the herb statewide last year, voters agreed to tax sales of it at 25 percent and apply the first $40 million (30 million euros) of revenue generated to building schools.
In Washington, a suburb of Seattle raised local minimum wage to $15 hourly. Statewide, 55 percent of voters chose not to require companies to label genetically modified ingredients.
On Tuesday, voters in Detroit chose Democrat Mike Duggan, though his job holds little power as a state-appointed emergency city manager now runs the rustbelt city after it recently declared bankruptcy. In Boston, Tom Walsh will replace outgoing Mayor Thomas Menino, a fellow Democrat departing after 20 years in office, the longest in city mayoral history.
mkg/rg (Reuters, AFP, AP)