De Blasio ‘Needs To Explain Himself’ Over Cuba Honeymoon, Sandinista Support / Which he is proud of

The story of a Cambridge-raised  Sandinista supporter who married a  former lesbian and rose through the political ranks to become mayor of America’s  largest city

  • Bill De Blasio is a political insider who  worked on campaigns of Bill and Hillary Clinton
  • Grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and  is a lifelong Red Sox fan
  • Traveled to Nicaragua as a student in the  1980s and became supporter of the socialist government
  • Married Chirlane McCray in 1994 after  meeting at City Hall
  • McCray wrote a seminal 1979 magazine  article declaring that she was a black lesbian

By  Michael Zennie

PUBLISHED: 14:44 EST, 6  November 2013 |  UPDATED: 19:05 EST, 6 November 2013

Bill De Blasio, the first Democrat elected  mayor of New York City in a generation, is a Massachusetts-raised former  supporter of the communist Sandinistas who married a lesbian poet.

And he’s a lifelong Boston Red Sox fan.

De Blasio’s path to becoming the leader of  America’s largest city was unorthodox – especially compared with his Democratic  predecessors.

He rose up the ranks of Democratic politics.  He worked as a junior aide to the last Democratic mayor, David Dinkins. He  served in the Clinton Administration and ran Hillary Clinton’s 2000 bid for the  U.S. Senate. He served three years as a Democrat on the City Council.

But he is not necessarily a product of the  party political machine like previous Democratic mayors – in part because that  machinery no longer exists in the way it once did.

Partners: Bill De Blasio's marriage to Cirlane McCray, a former lesbian, was a major development in De Blasio's ride to power. The couple are seen today after their landslide victory 

Partners: Bill De Blasio’s marriage to Cirlane McCray, a  former lesbian, was a major development in De Blasio’s ride to power. The couple  are seen today after their landslide victory

Landslide: Bill De Blasio cruised to victory on Tuesday night - becoming the first Democratic mayor in a generationLandslide: Bill De Blasio cruised to victory on Tuesday  night – becoming the first Democratic mayor in a generation

Rising star: De Blasio worked in the Clinton Administration and managed the 2000 senate campaign of Hillary ClintonRising star: De Blasio worked in the Clinton  Administration and managed the 2000 senate campaign of Hillary Clinton

Childhood in Cambridge,  Massachusetts

De Blasio was born Warren Wilhelm, Jr. in  Manhattan in to an  Italian-American mother and a German American father. For  reasons  unknown, he has always gone by Bill.

Both were highly-educated – Warren Wilhelm  Sr. had degrees from both  Harvard and Yale and Maria De Blasio went to Smith  College.

Before De Blasio was born, both his  parents  had worked for the federal government, but had to flee  Washington after being  accused of being communists.

When De Blasio was a few years old, the  family moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, home of Harvard University.

He lived outside Boston until attending  college at New York University.  One result of his Massachusetts upbringing:  He’s as fan of the Boston  Red Sox – the arch-rivals of New York’s hometown  baseball team, the  Yankees.

But life in the Wilhelm house was not happy.  His father was a war hero who lost a leg to a Japanese grenade  while serving in  the Pacific during the Second World War.

When De Blasio was seven, his father suddenly  left the family. Warren Sr.  was battling alcoholism, which De Blasio believes  was a result of the  horrors he saw in war.

In 1979, when De Blasio was still a teenager,  Warren Sr. committed suicide.

After his father’s death, he changed his last  name from Wilhelm to his mother’s maiden name: De Blasio.

He told New York magazine: ‘She was often  very, very sad about thing that  had happened to her, but she had a fierce  resilience – a very sharp and  purposeful resilience. She was very  practical.’


Chirlane McCrayNew York City has been without a First Lady  for nearly all of the 21st Century, so New Yorkers have welcomed  the presence  of Bill De Blasio’s wife Chirlane McCray on the campaign  trail.

But, De Blasio himself has promised that  McCray will be unlike any First Lady the city has ever seen.

‘All I can say is buckle your seat belt. Get  ready for Chirlane McCray,’ he told a crowd last month, according to the New York Daily News.

McCray will, indeed, be different the the  other spouses who have lived in Gracie Mansion.

For starters, she’s a black former lesbian.

When her family moved to Longmeadow,  Massacushuetts, where she grew up, they were the second black family in the area  and neighbors started a  petition to get them to move out.

She attended in Wellesley College and moved  to New York to work in publishing.

In 1979, she write a story in Essence  magazine titled ‘I am a Lesbian.’  The piece is still celebrated by gay and  lesbian leaders for working to  dispel the myth that there were not homosexuals  in the black community.

'If you want to understand me, understand Chirlane,' De Blasio saysShe was an aide to Mayor David Dinkins in  1991, when she met De Blasio, who was a deputy mayor’s aide.

‘The way Bill describes it, I walked in with  my African dress and my nose ring, and he heard choirs singing,’ McCray told New Yorker.

‘I did not have that  experience.’

Eventually she showed him the Essen article  she wrote. De Blasio wasn’t deterred. He persisted in courting her and McCray  said she fell in love. They married two years later in 1994.

Daughter Chiara was born six months  later.

De Blasio has promised that his wife would  take an active role.

She was an ever-present face on the campaign  trail – along with the couple two children, 18-year-old Chiara and 16-year-old  Dante.

The Daily News reports that she also helped  vet staffers. She is expected the play a large role in his  administration.

‘If you want to understand me, understand  Chirlane,’ he told the newspaper.

Greetings from Italy

Maria De Blasio was from Southern Italy and  De Blasio still speaks Italian – he even uttered a few words of Italian during  his victory speech Tuesday night in Brooklyn.

Meanwhile, in Sant’Agata de’ Goti, Italy, his  maternal grandfather’s hometown, villagers gathered to celebrate De Blasio’s  victory. The mayor of the town of 11,000 said he hopes that one day the Mayor of  New York will visit the small hamlet outside Naples.

International appeal: The mayor of Sant'Agata de' Goti in Italy, De Blasio's grandfather's hometown, celebrated the victory from EuropeInternational appeal: The mayor of Sant’Agata de’ Goti  in Italy, De Blasio’s grandfather’s hometown, celebrated the victory from  Europe

Italians in De Blasio's ancestral hometown gathered to celebrate the victory of the half-Italian-AmericanItalians in De Blasio’s ancestral hometown gathered to  celebrate the victory of the half-Italian-American

Supporting a brutal socialist  regime

When De Blasio was in the college in the  1980s, he made a trip to Nicaragua. The Central American nation was in the midst  of a bloody civil war between the Soviet-backed socialist Sandinista government  and the U.S.-backed rightist Contras.

De Blasio initially said he visited the  capital of Managua on a relief mission to hand out supplies to war refugees.

However, once there, he grew to admire the  socialist regime, which President Ronald Reagan was attempting to help  overthrow.

On his return, he joined the Nicaragua  Solidarity Movement of Greater New York, which had a goal to ‘end capitalism,  replace with democratic socialism.’

Towering: At 6-foot-5, De Blasio is likely the tallest man ever elected to be mayor. He is taller even than Abraham Lincoln, who was just 6-foot-4Towering: At 6-foot-5, De Blasio is likely the tallest  man ever elected to be mayor. He is taller even than Abraham Lincoln, who was  just 6-foot-4

De Blasio and McCray married in 1994. It has been reported that they honeymooned in communist CubaDe Blasio and McCray married in 1994. It has been  reported that they honeymooned in communist Cuba

His support for the Sandinistas, who were  accused of slaughtering hundreds of innocent civilians and ‘disappearing’  political opponents, became an issue on the campaign trail.

Republican Joe Lohda told WCBS-TV: ‘Mr De Blasio’s involvement with the  Sandinistas didn’t happen in 1917; it happened 70 years later when the cruelty  and intrinsic failure of communism had become crystal clear to anyone with a  modicum of reason.

Mr De Blasio’s class warfare strategy in New  York City is directly out of the Marxist playbook. Now we know why.’

But De Blasio didn’t shy away from his past  political views, saying he was ‘very proud’ of his activism on Nicaragua.

‘I think at that time, United States policy  towards Central America was wrong,’ he said in September.

‘I think most Americans came to believe it  was wrong. I was proud to be an activist working against it.’

It was also revealed that in 1994, he and his  wife Chirlane McCray honeymooned in communist Cuba – at a time when it was  illegal for Americans to travel there. It was a fact that De Blasio and McCray  didn’t even tell their two teenage children.

A political fixer goes  public

De Blasio has been interested in politics his  whole life. In high school, he was nicked named ‘Senator Provolone,’ a nod to  both his Italian heritage and his love of student government.

He attended New York University, where he led  student protests to keep the library open longer and oppose tuition hikes. He  went on to earn a Masters of International Affairs from Columbia  University.

In 1989, he joined the campaign for Mayor  David Dinkins as a volunteer. His hard work was rewarded with a posting as an  aide to a deputy mayor in the Dinkins administration.

It was there that he met his wife, who is six  years older and was a speechwriter for Dinkins at the time.

After working on the re-election campaign for  President Bill Clinton, he was appointed as a regional director for federal  Department of Housing and Urban Development. In that director, he was the  highest-ranking HUD official in the New York and New Jersey area.

In 2000, the Clintons tapped him to run  Hillary’s U.S. Senate campaign.

The next year, De Blasio stepped out of the  shadows for the first time and ran for public office himself. He won a crowded  primary for the 39th district in Brooklyn with 32percent of the  vote.

After serving three terms – including one in  which he was the leader of the Brooklyn coalition, he won city-wide office as  Public Advocate.

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