De Blasio: On second thought, I’ll skip the gubernatorial election

Unlike most of Bill de Blasio’s second thoughts, this one improves on his first thoughts. The former and much-derided mayor of New York City has reconsidered an attempt to fight Kathy Hochul for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, ending months of maneuvering by de Blasio. He framed it as part of his ongoing mission against inequality:

Bill de Blasio, the former mayor of New York City, said on Tuesday that he would not run for governor of New York, as he had been widely expected to do.

Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat who served two terms in office, had signaled for months that he was planning a campaign, saying repeatedly that he did not feel ready to leave public service.

He made the announcement in a video posted on Twitter, in which he highlighted the accomplishments of his mayoral tenure before announcing that he would not be joining the governor’s race.

“No, I am not going to be running for governor in New York State,” Mr. de Blasio said, standing on the street outside his Brooklyn residence. “But I am going to devote every fiber of my being to fight inequality in the state of New York.”

Politico put it in somewhat plainer context:

Bill de Blasio isn’t running for governor after all — a decision the former mayor announced in a tweet Tuesday morning, after fundraising, seeking endorsements and trying to put together staff for a gubernatorial bid in recent months. …

De Blasio, once considered one of the savvier local politicians in the nation’s largest city, also ran a long-shot, four-month bid for president in 2019. He never got traction and found himself facing several violations with the Federal Election Commission.

He had hoped running for governor would allow him to test his signature proposals — raising taxes on the wealthy to fund expanded early education — on a bigger stage, and all signs pointed to an interest in challenging Gov. Kathy Hochul, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and Rep. Tom Suozzi in the primary this June.

So the news that he would not run after all came as an about face from the former mayor, who had called people seeking donations for an account he established with the state Board of Elections last year, New Yorkers for a Fair Future. A public filing revealing his fundraising totals is expected soon, and a member of his team did not say exactly how much he had pulled in thus far.

One suspects that de Blasio’s fundraising probably had more to do with this decision, and might be the “inequality” that finally faced. Politico also notes that de Blasio had trouble lining up staff for a primary campaign and party endorsements of his leadership. Anyone who watched New York City and de Blasio’s ineptitude over the past few years can understand why.

It’s a bit mystifying why de Blasio thought he could compete in a statewide race, even among Democrats in a primary. His mayoral term transformed the Big Apple from a relatively safe city to almost its nadir seen in the late 1970s and 1980s. His presidential aspirations were a running punch line for most of his second term. On top of all that, de Blasio’s pandemic management was an instructive disaster for voters that might well contemplate what his leadership would do to the whole state.

The New York Times asked that question three months ago, in fact:

Bill de Blasio Thinks He Could Be Governor. Does Anyone Else?

… His approval ratings in New York City have been low, according to the sparse polling that is publicly available, and he faces deep skepticism elsewhere in the state — an environment similar to the one he confronted, unsuccessfully, in his 2020 presidential bid. A run for governor would be contrary to the better judgment of even some people he considers allies, as well as that of many party leaders across the state.

“Osama bin Laden is probably more popular in Suffolk County than Bill de Blasio,” said Rich Schaffer, the chairman of the county’s Democratic committee, who endorsed Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday. “De Blasio, I would say, would have zero support if not negative out here.”

At a debate during New York City’s Democratic mayoral primary this year, the candidates were asked to raise their hands if they would accept Mr. de Blasio’s endorsement. Only one contender did so — a sign of the mayor’s standing in his own party.

Furthermore, the last thing Democrats want in New York is an internecine food fight at the top in the post-Cuomo era. Andrew Cuomo’s bullying and depredations did enough damage to the party, and Hochul thus far has given no reason why she can’t serve as a rallying point for a damaged party — or at least a brief respite from all the drama. Besides, it seems pretty weird that de Blasio wanted to push out the state’s first woman governor for the sake of addressing “inequality.”

De Blasio insists that he’ll have more announcements in the future about his plans for public service. He might have trouble finding anyone who’ll care.

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