Bill de Blasio ends 2020 presidential campaignSeptember 20, 2019
Mayor Bill de Blasio ended his long-shot presidential bid Friday morning four months after he began, acknowledging he had no chance of winning the Democratic nomination.
“I feel like I’ve contributed all I can to this primary election, and it’s clearly not my time,” he said in announcing his plans on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “So I’m going to end my presidential campaign, continue my work as mayor of New York City and I’m going to keep speaking up for working people and for a Democratic party that stands for working people.”
He will continue fundraising for his Fairness PAC, a political action committee he set up in 2018 in part to help promote Democratic candidates throughout the country, an aide confirmed. The PAC, which doubled as an exploratory committee for his own presidency, helped Democrats in two hotly-contested gubernatorial races last year — Florida’s Andrew Gillum and Georgia’s Stacey Abrams.
But his own candidacy never seemed viable.
The mayor of the nation’s largest city was unable to crack more than 1 percent in the polls, had difficulty amassing a sufficient campaign war chest — despite hitting up New York City donors who have business dealings with his administration — and did not qualify for the debate in September.
He said recently he would not continue to pursue the presidency if he could not get into the October debate, but kept traveling around the country discussing his ideas and recently proposed a “robot tax” to help workers displaced by automation.
The unlikely campaign started with a series of missteps that have come to characterize de Blasio’s recent political career.
In his lead-up to a formal launch, he went to Trump Tower for what was ostensibly a government announcement on building emissions, but was drowned out by hecklers who descended the lobby escalator behind him with signs reading, “Worst Mayor Ever” and “Failed Mayor.” The New York Times headline declared it “A Circus.”
A high school student with a political blog beat him to his formal announcement, breaking the news before de Blasio could.
He was forced to drop his out-of-the-gate moniker for President Donald Trump — ConDon — after learning the word means "condom" in Spanish.
Other gaffes followed. He quoted Che Guevara at a labor rally Miami in an unsuccessful appeal to Cubans who are opposed to the revolutionary who was aligned with Fidel Castro.
Later, his voice was comically distorted in a video announcement to labor workers in Iowa, many of whom could be heard laughing.
He also reverted to his ever-questionable campaign fundraising practices of relying on donors who want something in return, leading him into a tribal feud among warring factions in the city's Orthodox Jewish community.
And he garnered at least two complaints to the Federal Election Commission because he had quietly turned a political action committee purportedly intended to help other Democrats into an exploratory committee for himself.
In between the mishaps, de Blasio had moments of unvarnished success.
He delivered a concise and populist debate performance during the first televised faceoff, earning him the respect of national commentators and affording him a chance to promote his record as mayor to millions of viewers.
He opted to break from Democratic candidate protocol and appear repeatedly on FOX News, thoughtfully laying out his positions on income inequality, immigration and gun control during an appearance on Hannity. (A subsequent interview on Tucker Carlson’s show did not bode as well for de Blasio.)
And the campaign trail appeared to offer a renewed push by de Blasio for a bill to mandate two weeks paid vacation for city workers — legislation which, if passed, stands to help the mayor’s legacy as well as the employees who would benefit.
At the same time, the campaign was a source of constant derision in his home city, where even his own staff privately acknowledged he was distracted and absent from daily governing.
A poll released this week showed he had dismal support in New York, with virtually no one saying they supported his campaign. He polled at 0 percent in New York City, 0 percent in the suburbs and 0 percent upstate in the presidential primary and had only a 33 percent favorability rating in New York City.
“It is my sincere hope the mayor will return to NYC with a renewed commitment to serve the citizens of NYC,” Fordham University associate political science professor Christina Greer told POLITICO in a text Friday morning. “His legacy is on the line. And honest, the future of progressive mayors across the country need him to show up and lead.”
She applauded his record on expanding pre-kindergarten to all 4-year-olds — something he is implementing for more children — but added, “Some of his initiatives are showing cracks in their foundation.” She pointed to the city’s troubled mental health initiative and a stubbornly high homeless population.
“I truly hope New Yorkers elect someone in 2021 who is interested in the minutiae of local government and isn’t constantly eyeing the next office,” she said.
De Blasio blamed his challenges in the primary race on getting into the campaign late — May 16, after most candidates had already begun stumping — saying it is difficult to run for office while overseeing the city. But he found the time and funding for months before he announced to travel to Iowa and other early-voting states to meet people, deliver remarks and do other campaign-style events.
De Blasio continued to question the electability of former Vice President Joe Biden, one of the leading candidates, on Friday, warning that Democrats might not vote if they are not inspired by their nominee.
“We don’t have to worry about a lack of unity; we do need to worry about a lack of passion,” he said, declining to say who would get his support. “If Democrats don’t stand for something, do not assume people will come out and vote if they’re not inspired.”