Despite High Hopes, de Blasio Was Gone in a New York Minute
“New York values” aren’t for everyone, or at least not enough voters in the Democratic primary seemed to like the New York values of the Big Apple’s mayor, Bill de Blasio. He is out of the 2020 race.
“I feel like I’ve contributed all I can to this primary campaign, and it’s clearly not my time,” de Blasio said Friday in an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “I’m going to end my presidential campaign, continue my work as mayor of New York City, and I’m going to keep speaking up for working people.”
Many in the town he’s run since 2014 breathed a sigh of relief. They never wanted him to run anyway.
Before de Blasio even entered the race, New Yorkers were urging him not to, according to polling by Quinnipiac University. In April, a month before he declared his intentions, 76% of voters in that metropolis thought that their mayor would do more harm than good on the national stage.
And just to emphasize their point, Quinnipiac pollsters noted that “every listed party, gender, racial, borough and age group agrees that the mayor should not hit the campaign trail.”
A national electorate felt the same way, and de Blasio remained in the polling basement, though he did qualify for the first and second primary debates by topping the 1% support threshold.
On the first stage in Miami, de Blasio fared well enough. Then he decided to quote Che Guevara while rallying with striking workers the next day. It didn’t go over well with the anti-communist communities in the Sunshine State. De Blasio apologized.
On the next debate stage in Detroit, he offered no further apologies. He just attacked other, better-known candidates as insufficiently progressive.
De Blasio went after South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg over policing in that Indiana town, assailed Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet for “fearmongering about universal health care,” and attacked the front-runners for being too beholden to the moneyed elite.
“Joe Biden told wealthy donors that nothing fundamentally would change if he were president,” de Blasio argued. “Kamala Harris said she's not trying to restructure society. Well, I am.”
It didn’t work. And a sense of desperation set in as the campaign continued. De Blasio agreed to an interview on Fox News with Sean Hannity where the two New Yorkers shouted at each other about municipal as much as national matters for the better part of an hour.
He was the first candidate to go on the top-rated prime-time talk show. He weathered attacks about his views on increasing the minimum wage, his record on policing, and his habit of driving “to Brooklyn eight miles away to do your stupid workout” -- a Hannity reference to the mayor’s populist effort to connect with local people by exercising at an outer-borough YMCA.
Either Democratic voters weren’t watching those exchanges or they weren’t impressed. De Blasio didn’t make the stage for the third debate in Houston, and by dropping out he provides a tacit admission that he never had a shot at qualifying for the fourth contest next month in Ohio.
Now an also-ran, de Blasio pledges to do his best by offering support and advice: “Whoever our nominee is, let's make sure we're speaking to the hearts of working people and they know we're on their side. And if we do that, we're going to win. If we don't, this is an election that could go the other way.”
It is not clear whether any candidate would turn to the mayor for counsel. If anything, they are more likely to look to Buttigieg, the mayor of a Midwestern city with a fraction of New York’s population. Where Buttigieg offered new insights and new energy, de Blasio provided stagnation and an unwelcome distraction.
His dropout was a delight to Republicans, and a source of sarcastic glee at the White House on Friday morning.
“Oh no, really big political news, perhaps the biggest story in years! Part time Mayor of New York City, @BilldeBlasio, who was polling at a solid ZERO but had tremendous room for growth, has shocking dropped out of the Presidential race,” President Trump tweeted.
“NYC is devastated, he’s coming home!” he concluded.
Hardly a hometown hero in the liberal metropolis, Trump nonetheless may have struck a chord with New Yorkers. According to polling, de Blasio has a job approval rating of 42% approve/44% disapprove.