Politico is reporting that Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is taking some of the early steps for a possible presidential run in 2020. There have been rumors that he's been considering it for a while now. This weekend he'll be heading to early primary state New Hampshire to make some appearances, and he's consulting with some aides who have worked on previous national campaigns.
How crazy is this idea? Compare de Blasio's approval ratings among New York state voters with President Donald Trump's national numbers in recent polling by Quinnipiac University. In January, voters in the state gave de Blasio a 32 to 44 percent approval/disapproval rating (he fares better among just New York City voters). In a January poll from Quinnipiac, Trump had a 41 to 55 percent approval/disapproval rating nationally (though he polls much worse just among New York voters). So technically a much greater percentage of folks disapprove of Trump's performance, but certainly nobody in de Blasio's orbit is going to be quoting the mayor's poll numbers in interviews to make him look good. In that same poll, New York voters ranked de Blasio dead last among political figures from the state they'd like to see run for president. New Yorkers would rather see former Mayor Michael Bloomberg run for president. Even freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez outranked him, and she's not old enough to run for president yet.
Really, what's to like about de Blasio? Who on earth would vote for him outside New York City (and perhaps a few other large coastal cities)? Has anybody on the progressive left been less adept at making the case for top-down governance by urban elites? He complains about income inequality, but the city cracks down hard on any company like Uber or Airbnb that lets folks work a side-hustle because it hurts the politically powerful taxi cartel and hotel industries. (How bad do you have to be at this to cause a black state assemblymember in New York to complain that city agents are following and harassing white residents in Brooklyn because they suspect they're Airbnb customers?) He hates charter schools, even though they provide valuable education alternatives to poor minorities in the city, because it reduces the power of teachers' unions. Meanwhile, there's probably better than even odds that the New York City subway might actually be on fire when you read this.
He rails about the evils of the wealthy while facing regular corruption scandals at City Hall. He fired a city watchdog who wrote critical reports about some of the city's departments. He's alienated the local New York City press due to a record of poor transparency (don't expect any Ocasio-Cortez-style puff pieces about him). The City Council is in the middle of passing regulations to try to stop the dramatic expansion of "placard abuse" under de Blasio, in which some 150,000 government employees park wherever they damned well please and ignore traffic laws, protected from consequences while at the same time feeding the city's congestion issues.
He's openly disdainful of the very idea of property rights, believing that government should decide what gets built. But he at this very moment is alienating other progressives in New York by insisting that Amazon needs its tax incentives and special government deals to build a second headquarters in Queens, inadvertently making the case that when the government decides what gets to be built, it's those who have the most power and influence who will dominate the discussion, not the actual members of the community. He complains about slumlords and says he's going to seize their properties, but it turns out the city's own housing authority is actually the worst landlord in the Big Apple.
Were de Blasio to actually enter the race, it would be a huge boon for anybody looking to attack the legitimacy of this effort to try drag the Democratic Party leftward toward socialistic ideation. He has flat out said that the wealth in New York is in the "wrong hands," but watch him tap dance through an interview with Jake Tapper where he does not answer the question of who the "right hands" are and who gets to decide who those "wrong" people are. The answer, of course, is people like de Blasio, who complains about how the game is rigged in favor of the rich and powerful while promoting policies that keep it that way.
De Blasio treats the citizens of New York like they're subjects under government care, not free people, and a national campaign from him, if it gets anywhere at all, will involve anecdote after anecdote of the many people whose livelihoods have been harmed from his rule by all-powerful bureaucracy.
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