Mayor Bill de Blasio revealed Thursday he would force his six-four frame into the overcrowded subway car that is the Democratic presidential primary—a move that elicited groans and not a few bitter guffaws.
Regardless of whether the journey set to begin in Fort Dodge, Iowa ends with de Blasio in the White House, the mayor’s run for president will inevitably affect how he runs the city. And that will produce winners and losers.
WINNERS:With de Blasio away, the City Council speaker will have room to play. The mayor’s absence will leave the day-to-day operation of the city in the hands of First Deputy Mayor Dean Fuleihan, an seasoned expert on city budgets and labor deals and other municipal minutiae. But with the mayor out of town, Johnson will have the chance to craft and advance fresh policy ideas without de Blasio around to publicly slap them down. This will doubtless prove a boon to his own mayoral ambitions
Count Public Advocate Jumaane Williams as a runner-up. If de Blasio gets stranded in one of the primary states for longer than nine days, Willliams—whose job normally has little power or policy influence—moves into Gracie Mansion.
2. Aspiring city contractors: The Department of Investigation found earlier this year that the mayor had improperly solicited donations for one of his now-defunct political nonprofits from people and organizations with business before the city. De Blasio maintains that he no longer engages in such behavior—instead he gets cash for his Fairness Political Action Committee from those who simply hope to do business with the city. The New York Times reportedin April that the Boston-based Suffolk Construction, which has looked to expand its footprint in the five boroughs, hosted a fundraiser for the PAC. The mayor will need cash to pay for ads, staff, travel and literature—among other things. This represents an enormous opportunity for anybody who dreams of making a deal with City Hall.
3. NYCHA and the homeless: The biggest and most obvious blots on de Blasio’s record, besides his numerous ethical imbroglios, are the thousands of lead-poisoned children residing in New York City Housing Authority developments and the thousands of New Yorkers living on the streets and in temporary housing. The mayor isn’t wholly at fault for these problems, but his administration did allow them to spiral. Look for conditions in public housing and city shelters to improve, just in time for the CNN and the Washington Post cameras show up.
LOSERS: The mayor has shocked political prognosticators before, shattering expectations by becoming first public advocate and then hizzoner. But no modern New York City mayor has ever ascended to higher office, and the presidential bids of John Lindsay and Rudolph Giuliani succeeded in little other than embarrassing the candidates. The mayor’s past forays into national politics have been less than inspiring: his pointless equivocating over whether to endorse Hillary Clinton got him relegated to an undercard speaking slot at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, and his events in crucial states have drawn only the sparsest crowds. The mayor polls at the bottom among the two dozen contenders in the Democratic field, drawing 0% the first-in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire.
2. Real estate: The mayor has grabbed for national headlines in the run-up to his campaign by slapping regulations on landlords, and insisting that he’s targeting President Donald Trump. But Trump’s actual holdings in New York are actually pretty meager: it’s the industry’s bigger players who have to pay the most. But de Blasio’s strategy has won him the out-of-town notice he craves, so he’s only likely to push more such measures—and the council is only too happy to oblige. Outside New York, de Blasio is best known—if he’s known at all—for being tall and once dropping a groundhog. It’s the hometown papers that have held him accountable for his fundraising habits, relationships with lobbyists, the crises at NYCHA, misspent monies at the First Lady’s ThriveNYC initiative, tragedies at the Administration for Children’s Services and the explosion in the street population. And it’s hometown papers that have borne his petulant rage. The mayor has always preferred to court national reporters with little knowledge of his failures and foibles. Now is his grand chance to brush local journalism aside.
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