Bill de Blasio Running For President For Some Reason

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has entered the race for the Democratic nomination for President, making him the 23rd candidate in an already crowded field.

This morning, New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio, who had been flirting with the idea of running for President for the better part of the past year with frequent visits to Iowa and other early primary states, made his decision official to become the 23rd candidate in the Democratic field for President:

Bill de Blasio, the Democratic mayor of New York City, announced on Thursday that he was running for president, seeking to show that his brand of urban progressive leadership can be a model for the rest of the nation.

It will be a steep challenge: He becomes the 23rd Democrat to enter the presidential race, and he does so against the counsel of many of his trusted advisers, and in the face of two centuries of history.

No sitting mayor has been elected to the presidency, and if Mr. de Blasio is to be the first, he must overcome daunting deficits in polls and fund-raising.

His announcement, in a three-minute video titled “Working People First,” comes after months of groundwork that has included visits to early presidential primary states, a fund-raiser in Boston and a circuslike news conference this week in the lobby of Trump Tower.

In precampaign stops in Iowa, South Carolina and New Hampshire, Mr. de Blasio, 57, has said that the country is witnessing “the dawning of a new progressive era,” and said in interviews that his leadership in New York should be seen as a model for how “you can make profound progressive change and make it quickly.”

He is fond of citing his “pre-K for all” program as a prime example; it was one of Mr. de Blasio’s earliest initiatives, and it remains his largest success. He also highlights various measures to attempt to reduce income inequality in the city, and to end the policing practice of stop-question-and-frisk, which a federal judge ruled discriminated against black and Latino men.

“All of the things I’ve told you, they’re happening,” the mayor said last month at the National Action Network’s annual convention. “They’re not words, they’re deeds. They’re happening here. They can happen all over this country.”

Mr. de Blasio plans to fly to Iowa on Thursday night. He will campaign there on Friday and then visit South Carolina for campaign stops on Saturday and Sunday.


The mayor will have to make up a huge fund-raising disadvantage as he builds out a campaign staff, and close a seemingly insurmountable gap in polls. In a Monmouth University poll last month, Mr. de Blasio had a net favorability of zero: 24 percent like him, 24 percent do not like him. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont is the only candidate with a higher unfavorability number, 26 percent, but his favorability rate was 67 percent.

Mr. de Blasio seemed undaunted, saying that if he had listened to the polls he would have never run for mayor or public advocate.
Mr. de Blasio joins a crowded field that already includes two other current mayors: Pete Buttigieg, of South Bend, Ind., and Wayne Messam of Miramar, Fla.

The mayor who came closest to the presidency was from New York City: DeWitt Clinton, who won his party’s endorsement but lost to James Madison in 1812. The last sitting mayor of New York who tried to run for president was John V. Lindsay in 1972; Rudolph W. Giuliani, who left City Hall in 2002, unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination in 2008.

In fact, it has been nearly a century since any New York City mayor went on to be elected to any office; the last was Ardolph Loges Kline, who was acting mayor in 1913, and served a term in the House of Representatives from 1921 to 1923.

Here’s the campaign video that de Blasio posted this morning to YouTube announcing the start of his campaign:

DeBlasio’s announcement isn’t exactly getting warm coverage from the New York Post:

Deblasio, whose full legal name is Warren Wilhelm de Blasio, Jr., was born in New York City but spent much of his early life in the Boston area to the point that to this day he remains a Red Sox fan, much to the ire of many of his fellow New Yorkers. He received a B.A. in “metropolitan studies” from New York University and, later, a Masters degree in International Affairs from Columbia University.

After a brief stint in New York City government after college, DeBlasio went to work for an organization providing aid to the population in Nicaragua during the revolution that took place there in the early 1980s. During that time, he became an ardent supporter of the Sandinista government that took power after the revolution, a government which became the focus of Reagan Administration due to its ties to Cuba and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. After some time in Nicaragua, de Blasio returned to New York City where he became involved in city politics via a position on the campaign of David Dinkins, who would become Mayor in 1989. De Blasio took a job as an aide in City Hall during the Dinkins years and at the time described himself as an advocate for so-called “democratic socialism.”

When Dinkins lost his position as Mayor to Rudy Giuliani in the election of 1993, DeBlasio worked in a variety of political position in New York, including managing former Congressman Charlie Rangel’s 1994 successful re-election bid. In 1997, De Blasio went to work for the Clinton era Department of Housing and Urban Development, which began a relationship with the Clinton family that led to him becoming Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager during her 2000 bid to succeed Daniel Patrick Moynihan in the U.S. Senate.

IN 2001, de Blasio was elected to the New York City Council, beginning a tenure on that body that would last until the end of 2009. In 2009, he was elected Public Advocate of New York City, a citywide elected position that put him first in line to succeed the Mayor in the event of a vacancy. De Blasio held that position for a single term before running for Mayor in 2013 in a competitive race made so by the fact that the incumbent at the time, Michael Bloomberg, was term-limited. Initially, de Blasio was seen as an underdog for the crucial Democratic nomination due to the fact that City Council Speaker Christine Quinn was dominating the race. However, Quinn’s campaign ended up being ill-fated, which allowed both de Blasio and City Comptroller Bill Thompson to overtake her late in the campaign. In the end, de Blasio won the Democratic nomination that year rather decisively and, of course, went on to defeat his Republican opponent in the November General Election. Four years later, de Blasio was easily re-elected in both the Democratic primary and the General Election.

For the most part and notwithstanding the fact that he faced little serious opposition when he ran for re-election, de Blasio’s time as Mayor has been rather unremarkable. More or less, he’s governed like a standard Democrat while increasingly trying to become a national spokesperson for the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, something that seemed rather odd given the fact that he spent much of his early political career in the Clinton orbit. In any case, de Blasio’s tenure as Mayor has not been without controversy. Most notably, he has clashed many times with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to the point where, in advance of the 2017 election, there was some speculation that Cuomo was looking to support a Democrat capable of taking de Blasio out. While that never materialized, the political rivalry continued and has played a significant role in relations between the City and state government for the past five years.

Like his predecessors, de Blasio has benefited significantly from the fact that the economy of New York City itself continues to grow in much the way that it has been under the tenures of Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg. It’s also helped that de Blasio himself has avoided making any major blunders, although he did recently experience a political setback when Amazon decided to withdraw from the agreement to locate part of its HQ2 in an outlying area of the city in the Borough of Queens. In a rare display of partnership, de Blasio and Cuomo had worked hard to get Amazon to commit to the project but opposition to the deal from the political left represented by persons such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez became so loud that Amazon decided to simply exercise its option to back out of the deal. Beyond that, de Blasio’s time as Mayor can be summed up by the word “Meh.” He hasn’t been noticeably incompetent in the manner that David Dinkins was in the early 90s, but he also hasn’t been very impressive, which is perhaps one reason why his current job approval numbers linger in the low 40s. That same polling has shown that most New Yorkers, including most Democrats in the city, say that it would be bad for the city if de Blasio ran for President.

As I said, de Blasio has been flirting with the idea of running for President for some time now, but that doesn’t make his decision to run any less puzzling. Even many of de Blasio’s own supporters have said in private conversations that the idea of such a campaign was rather absurd and some have suggested that a campaign that takes de Blasio away from the city for an extended period of time could end up hurting the Mayor’s political future. Additionally, the run is made even more puzzling by the fact that there appears to be an air of corruption building around de Blasio, with several of his top donors being caught up in a corruption scandal that, while it doesn’t touch the Mayor directly certainly does seem to be coming much too close for comfort.

Due to this and for other reasons, many people have been deriding the idea of de Blasio running for President, including Hot Air’s Jazz Shaw:

[A]s Hizzonor embarks on what has quickly become the most mocked and ridiculed presidential bid in modern history, let’s take a brief walk down memory lane. Leave aside for the moment how comically inept he has been as mayor. Forget about his endless stream of wacky ideas like eliminating skyscrapers in the Big Apple. We can even skip over that time he murdered the groundhog. Let’s just get straight to the corruption.

He made his announcement in the same week that two men literally pleaded guilty to bribing him and are going to prison.

But they weren’t the only ones. Harendra Singh pleaded guilty to bribing the Mayor last year. Jona Rechnitz had already made the same plea deal in 2017.

Of course, questionable handling of the public purse seems to run in the family. His wife made almost a billion dollars disappear for a mental health program that delivered basically zero results and where nobody seems to have kept track of the money.

Or shall we talk about Jeremy Reichberg and the private jet with hookers onboard heading for Vegas?

Bill de Blasio managed to get himself elected mayor in what is very likely the only place in the country where he could attract any votes from people not sharing his last name. And he immediately set to work figuring out ways to get around the city’s campaign finance laws. In that, at least, he was stunningly successful. Under his leadership, the mass transit system has turned into a dysfunctional, urine splattered mess. His bungled management of the New York City Housing Authority has left thousands of residents in apartments without heat or power for months on end. (The NYCHA is now in federal receivership because it financially collapsed.)

I’d say that much of this will get national attention during the campaign, but that kind of assumes that de Blasio will get that much national attention beyond his initial announcement. While his position as Mayor of New York City may mean that he’ll get more attention than other “also-ran” candidates might get in a crowded field, but it’s unlikely that will make much of a difference. As they have for other candidates, FiveThirtyEight lays out a potential scenario under which de Blasio could win the nomination, but it doesn’t seem like a very probable outcome. Instead, much like many other candidates he seems likely to linger in the back of the field and will be lucky to get into any of the upcoming debates. For now, I’d place him on the growing list of candidates who will likely drop out prior to the first votes being cast in Iowa in February of next year.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Bill de Blasio Running For President For Some Reason

    Because being the most hated man in NYC is just so boring?

  2. grumpy realist says:

    …I think the scenario by which de Blasio ends up as the Democratic candidate involves a few asteroids and the survivors getting eaten by zombie cows.

  3. Kathy says:

    To paraphrase:

    When a Democrat has nothing to do, they can amuse themselves by running for president.

  4. Tony W says:

    Nature abhors a vacuum.

  5. SKI says:

    I know Jazz is a favorite drinking-twitter buddy of yours, Doug but his takes have gotten more and more detached from reality. Can we please stop seeing him quoted as authoritative on anything but vodka?

    As you yourself noted on twitter, MTA is principally controlled by the State, not NYC. Yet here you quoted Jazz blaming it on De Blasio.

  6. Neil J Hudelson says:

    Taking a page from Teve’s book. From twitter:

    Jesse Eisinger @eisingerj

    A former top aide for De Blasio told me this is exactly right: He is utterly bored and hates being mayor. He doesn’t expect to win but he just wants to get out of NYC. It’s… pathetic.

  7. CSK says:

    The NYPost cover says it all:

  8. Teve says:

    @Neil J Hudelson: as part of Teve’s effort to cut back on politics, Teve has been ignoring anything to do with de Blasio. There’s a bottom tier of Democratic candidates who are just being annoying by wasting our time.

  9. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Attention whore

  10. wr says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: “Because being the most hated man in NYC is just so boring?”

    Actually he doesn’t even crack that top spot — it belongs first to Andrew Cuomo, with Giuliani as number two. I don’t think people here care enough about the mayor to hate him that much.

  11. just nutha says:

    @SKI: I also object to the accusation that de Blasio murdered the groundhog. Even the Post (!!!) admits that de Blasio only lost his grip, as opposed to pitching the animal off a platform or smashing it’s head into the ground deliberately. The worst he should be accused of is involuntary hogicide.

  12. SKI says:

    @just nutha: Don’t confuse my disdain for Jazz for in any way supporting De Blasio or his run.

  13. MarkedMan says:

    Having been an upstater myself, I’ve always felt that NYC was the biggest little town in the world. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great city and has a lot to offer. But the residents often seem like clueless yokels completely unaware of anything and anyone outside of their town. This was best demonstrated by Mayor Ed Koch, who decided that the next step after mayor was a run for NYS governor. Very early in the campaign someone questioned the perfection of the city (I believe they were commenting on the subway system) and he responded by insulting the suburbs. Not content with offending that constituency he decided to take it farther afield and started telling the reporter just what he thought of those even farther upstate. [Wait, let me get the exact quote…} OK, it turns out he actually started it by telling the reporter that living in the suburbs was “wasting your life”. When asked if sitting in the subway was also wasting your life he replied:

    “‘As opposed to wasting time in a car? Or out in the country, wasting time in a pickup truck when you have to drive 20 miles to buy a gingham dress or a Sears Roebuck suit?
    This rural America thing — I’m telling you, it’s a joke.”

    So DiBlasio is not the first person from one of the boroughs who thought the rest of the world was just waiting to be blessed by the spectacle of a real New Yorker.

  14. Facebones says:

    I live in NYC. I probably like DiBlasio more than most people.

    I would only vote for him in the primary if it came down to a choice between him and Tulsi Gabbard and Seth Moulton.

    This is all about him auditioning for a cabinet position or talking head spot on the teevee.

  15. Gustopher says:

    I don’t know much about him, and look forward to continuing to not know much about him.

    He doesn’t seem well loved.

  16. wr says:

    @SKI: I did think it was amusing that every link “Jazz” provided was to the Post. Wow, a Murdoch paper that spends most of its pages licking Trump’s balls doesn’t like a liberal — shocking!!!

  17. gVOR08 says:

    Judging from the number of people who do it theses days, you can apparently make a pretty good living, directly or indirectly, by running for president. Nobody seemed quite sure if the D count before DeBlasio was 22 or 23. Any more mayors in the wings? And speaking of MTA troubles, have I missed an announcement, is Cuomo in or out?

    Big reason Trump won the R nomination is the opposition was split over 16 major candidates. Only a few of these people have or had any realistic shot at prez, or veep, or even the cabinet. And these numbers don’t count the what, dozens, of candidates each cycle you haven’t heard of, and never will.

  18. Kylopod says:


    But the residents often seem like clueless yokels completely unaware of anything and anyone outside of their town.

    Having lived there for the past 8 years, I’ve often been struck by the insularity of its residents. I actually talked to someone who was surprised to learn that in other parts of the country it’s considered pretty weird to own a shopping cart. And I’ve found that people who come from other countries but have never been anywhere else in the US have a really skewed perception. They don’t have any sense that NYC is a genuinely weird city in the American landscape. But so many movies take place in NYC it gives foreigners a really distorted perception of what the country is like, and native New Yorkers themselves tend to think of the city as some kind of cultural center of American life that the rest of the country looks up to.

  19. Kylopod says:


    Any more mayors in the wings?

    Buttigieg is a mayor. There’s also a South Florida mayor running named Wayne Messam. Bernie, Booker, Castro, and Hickenlooper were once mayors.

    Of course, there are mayors and then there are mayors. NYC has a larger population than 38 of the states.

  20. Gustopher says:

    He does have a B name, so, I guess he will fit right in. Bill Bradley was 20 years too early.

  21. Kylopod says:


    Bill Bradley was 20 years too early.

    Don’t count him out yet. He’s actually younger than Bernie or Biden.

  22. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @SKI: I didn’t. I was just snarking.

  23. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kylopod: I’m not sure the attitude is that it’s weird to own a shopping cart as much as it is that most of us don’t think of being so old that we won’t be able to drive ourselves to the store. Another way that NYC may be different from other places is that most of us don’t actually live close enough to shops to even consider walking to them.

    When I was in Korea, the grocery store was 150 feet away from my apartment and even when I needed to go to a bigger store, the bus that would take me to it came every 10 minutes and it was a 10 minute trip. Where my mom and dad moved to when the got older, the bus came 4 times a day and a trip to anywhere was 75 minutes minimum. My dad finally stopped driving when he got lost and couldn’t find his way out of a parking lot with 6 spaces in it. He’d started showing memory issues about 2 years before that event, but turning left into the on coming lane of traffic hadn’t been enough to convince him he couldn’t drive–even the 3rd or 4th time it happened.

  24. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: I should also note that my parents didn’t move to rural America or anything. They still lived in Metro Seattle and relatively close in. The freeway would be able to take one into downtown from where they lived in about 35 minutes at normal freeway speeds (so not during business hours or anything like that).

  25. Kylopod says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: There are a number of factors that lead to the NYC custom of having a personal shopping cart: Traffic is a mess; it’s very hard to find places to park; the public transportation is excellent and cheap, and because of that, many people don’t even own cars (I’ve met residents who never even learned to drive); and, yes, the city is crammed with groceries and other shops within a short walking distance from most apartments, but which contain no parking lots of their own.

  26. just nutha says:

    @Kylopod: I was aware of that. One of the running jokes on Dick Wolf “Law and Order” shows was that some young person with only university ID will say something about being a “third generation no driver’s license.”