American politics is known for being a “three ring circus,” but the recent 2020 presidential contender race for the Democrats has reached a new level of foolish behavior as there are now two dozen candidates running:
He’s late — again.
After nearly half a year of hemming and hawing, Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday entered the 2020 presidential race, becoming the 23rd Democrat to join the jam-packed field.
The termed-out politician, known for his habitual tardiness, finally decided to run after five months of toying with a White House bid.
“I’m Bill de Blasio and I’m running for president because it’s time we put working people first,” the mayor said in a three-minute YouTube video announcing his candidacy.
The opening shots include de Blasio zipping around the city in the back of an SUV — his gas-guzzling choice of transportation for the 11-mile jaunt from Gracie Mansion to the gym in Park Slope.
“Good thing about New Yorkers is they look the same whether they’re really pissed off at you or they like you,” the mayor quips.
He details his “Working People First” slogan by touting his policy initiatives including pre-K for all, paid sick leave and boosting the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
First lady Chirlane McCray also makes an appearance to briefly plug her mental health agenda.
“Everything begins with being healthy and there is no health without mental health,” she says.
Then, as the White House flashes on the screen to dramatic music, de Blasio pivots to a national message.
“Don’t back down in the face of the bully — take him on,” he says. “As president, I will take on the wealthy, I will take on the big corporations, I will not rest until this government serves working people.”
He also vows to fight President Trump head-on.
“Donald Trump must be stopped. I’ve beaten him before and I’ll do it again,” de Blasio says.
Insiders initially thought de Blasio would announce his national campaign the week of his 58th birthday on May 8, but he delayed.
“So you’re still deciding?” NY1’s Errol Louis asked the mayor on May 6.
“Yes indeed,” the dithering mayor said.
Local political experts can’t fathom what prompted the mayor to take the plunge.
“It’s really hard to understand what lane de Blasio plans to ride to the nomination,” said David Birdsell, dean of the Marxe School of Public and International Affairs at CUNY’s Baruch College.
What’s more, people just don’t like him, polls show.
De Blasio has the dubious distinction of being the only candidate or potential candidate out of 23 contenders to earn a negative rating among national Democrats in a March Monmouth University survey. A total of 24 percent gave him a thumbs down while just 18 percent had a favorable view of him.
At home, the numbers are even worse. A staggering 76 percent of Big Apple voters don’t think he should run, according to an April Quinnipiac University Poll.
Since de Blasio was elected the 109th mayor in 2013 on a “Tale of Two Cities” platform, he’s disappointed many of the liberals who put him in office.
The city’s long-struggling Housing Authority collapsed under the weight of a lead-poisoning scandal, culminating in a federal lawsuit alleging a massive cover-up of toxic living conditions and a repair bill that hit an eye-watering $32 billion in 2018.
De Blasio was forced to accept federal oversight of NYCHA to settle a lawsuit brought by Manhattan federal prosecutors and has embraced the partial privatization — once an anathema — as one way to pay for renovations at many of its 325 projects.
While NYCHA rotted, the city’s homelessness crisis ballooned. Roughly 60,000 New Yorkers are now living on the streets, while the administration struggles to battle back neighborhood opposition to new homeless shelters.
Continuing probes alleged pay-to-play schemes have dogged de Blasio’s mayoralty.
The state Joint Commission on Public Ethics is still investigating his shuttered Campaign For One New York, a nonprofit that folded in 2016 after taking in $4.3 million to promote his pet projects, including pre-K expansion.
De Blasio ducked federal and state charges in 2017 after he was accused of handing out favors in exchange for donations to his political group.
But the city Department of Investigation concluded in 2018 that the mayor hit up individuals and companies with matters pending before city agencies to fill the coffers of the Campaign For One New York.
And the corruption claims linger.
City Comptroller Scott Stringer has subpoenaed the mayor for information about a $173 million real estate deal with developers Stuart and Jay Podolsky, who are represented by politically connected Brooklyn attorney Frank Carone.
The city paid the Podolskys $30 million above the appraised price for 21 buildings in the Bronx and Brooklyn to create more affordable housing. Carone donated $5,000 to de Blasio’s Fairness PAC last fall.
The mayor has defended the price tag, saying it was cheaper than taking the properties by eminent domain. He’s also said there was nothing wrong with accepting Carone’s cash because it was cleared by his lawyers.
The scandal will likely follow de Blasio on the campaign trail, where he’d rather talk up his progressive message of free pre-K and paid sick leave.
They’re the two shining examples from his time at City Hall. Before he took office in 2013, there were under 20,000 city kids in public pre-kindergarten. Now 70,000 4-year-olds are enrolled in the free program. In March 2014, he signed a bill requiring city employers to give up to five paid sick days to their workers each year.
De Blasio has laid some groundwork for the campaign — talking to small crowds in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.
He spoke to 20 people in Concord, New Hampshire, in March and just nine in Pahrump, Nevada, in April.
He heads to Iowa and South Carolina again this weekend.
He doesn’t have much time to convince would-be voters why he’s the one to take on Trump.
The first Democratic debate is in Miami on June 26 and 27. De Blasio may not even qualify for the debate because his poll numbers don’t meet the 1 percent threshold.
History is also not on de Blasio’s side.
“There are reasons why mayors of New York City haven’t done well in national politics and that’s because people don’t associate with their problems with those problems,” said Birdsell, the CUNY dean.
The checkered past goes back to 1812, when New York City Mayor DeWitt Clinton lost to incumbent James Madison. John Lindsay’s 1972 White House bid petered out during the primaries, and Rudy Giuliani came up short in 2008.
The mayor must spend time bulking up his campaign team. His Fairness PAC, which has organized his recent out-of-state visits, currently has a largely volunteer, skeleton staff.
It’s led by Jon Paul Lupo, who took a leave from his city position as director of intergovernmental affairs and is using vacation days to work on the PAC. Deputy press secretary Olivia Lapeyrolerie and deputy director of executive operations Alexandra Kopel are also using leave and their time off to boost the mayor’s 2020 bid.
Former top aide Mike Casca, who’d worked on Sen. Bernie Sanders’ previous presidential run, first left City Hall for the PAC, then cut ties with de Blasio altogether earlier this month.
The Democrats are not serious about winning. They don’t want to win so as to ensure a 2024 Democrat victory. All of their strategies are oriented towards failure because this is what they want.
It is interesting to watch the Democrats because many people have turned against Trump for his failure to follow through on his promises, and many of his erratic actions, not the least of which is pushing for a US war with Iran when the public clearly does not want another war.
Trump is acting in ways that are frankly ridiculous and awful. However, the Democrats are “outdoing” Trump in this by the clear and manufactured “disarray” they are showing to the public. Indeed, the more work that they do now, the less likely that men from Langley will have to spend working overtime hours to “fix” any potentially erroneous “results.”
Sit back and watch the show. 2020 is being set up for Trump, with a 2024 Democrat victory and a potentially unsure 2028. Expect continued decline in wages, declining standards of living, another economic crisis just before the 2024 election (around 2023, similar to the end of the Bush II years), and continued worsening conditions for a war.
What matters more that is the individual people take note of what is happening, and make their own preparations as it fits them.
The rest is just a three-ring circus.