Whether Democrats or Republicans, there's one political question that most Americans can agree on: Mayor Bill de Blasio is leaving NYC in much worse shape than he found it eight years ago.
Yet, despite facing near-universal criticism, and polling at under 1% nationally during his presidential campaign (which became the butt of endless jokes), political reporters in New York State are sounding the alarm Wednesday morning that the mayor best known for surging crime rates and economic inequality (and eating his pizza with a fork and knife) is exploring a run for governor of the Empire State.
Earlier this morning, the NYT's Katie Glueck reported on Twitter that she had spoken with at least three people close to the mayor who say he's been holding talks about a potential gubernatorial run, while sounding out some former aides about their potential interest in joining his campaign.
News: Bill de Blasio has begun to tell people that he plans to run for governor of New York, per 3 people w/direct knowledge of convos. He has also sounded out trusted former aides about their interest in a potential campaign.— Katie Glueck (@katieglueck) October 6, 2021
W/ @danarubinstein https://t.co/laaROU4LYm
Shortly after breaking the news, Glueck shared some amusing comments about de Blasio's prospects, shared by fellow Dems who clearly weren't concerned about protecting their identities. "Osama bin Laden is probably more popular in Suffolk County than Bill de Blasio," said said Rich Schaffer, the chairman of the county’s Democratic committee, who has already endorsed sitting governor Kathy Hochul (the state's first female governor) in her bid for a full term.
turns out some NY Dems have some thoughts on this.— Katie Glueck (@katieglueck) October 6, 2021
“Osama bin Laden is probably more popular in Suffolk County than Bill de Blasio,” said the chairman of the county’s Democratic committee.https://t.co/laaROUmnmW
As the NYT reminds us, there was one memorable moment during the race for the Democratic Primary for mayor where the candidates were asked during a debate whether they would accept de Blasio's endorsement. Only Andrew Yang raised his hand (though there was some speculation that de Blasio was 'secretly backing' Eric Adams, the primary's winner, who will very likely be elected to succeed de Blasio at Gracie Mansion).
He's also already facing significant competition, and not just from Hochul: New York AG Letitia James, who burnished her rep by leading the investigation into former Gov. Andrew Cuomo's sexual transgressions, is believed to be running. So is Jumaane Williams, a progressive Brooklyn Democrat and the city's current public advocate (a job that once belonged to de Blasio), who is popular with NYC's professional-class progressives. Should James win the governorship, she would be the first black woman elected governor in any state in the country.
What does de Blasio have to say about that? Per the NYT:
Asked whether New York should have another white male governor - Ms. Hochul is the first woman to lead the state; Ms. James and Mr. Williams are Black, and Ms. James could be the first Black woman to govern any state in the country - Mr. de Blasio appeared to brush aside the question last week.
"We need people of all backgrounds to be involved in government," he said.
We're starting to suspect that even de Blasio doesn't support a de Blasio candidacy. But as another NY political reporter pointed out, de Blasio doesn't need to win the governorship to benefit from his campaign. The game is a popular one in the US: run to build up a war chest, then use that war chest not to campaign, but to influence other politicians (because that money can then be given away).
Like now ex-Democrat Andrew Yang, de Blasio doesn’t have to win to gain much. He can raise a campaign chest and then use that to leverage influence. More or less what the Manhattan DA investigated him for when de Blasio brokered pass-through contributions via county committees.— Alyssa Katz (@alykatzz) October 6, 2021
But we thought Democrats were supposed to be the 'principled' ones?