Mayor Bill de Blasio has started telling people privately that he plans to run for governor of New York next year, according to three people with first-hand knowledge of his conversations with fellow Democrats and donors.
Mr de Blasio, who has been a polarizing figure during his two terms, also polled trusted former collaborators about their interest in working on a potential campaign, according to two people familiar with the contacts, and made other overtures to union leaders about a possible candidacy. His longtime pollster conducted a private investigation to gauge Mr de Blasio’s appeal beyond New York. And publicly, too, he has made it increasingly clear that he wants to stay in public life.
“There are a number of things I want to continue working on in this city, in this state,” Mr. de Blasio said last week, highlighting his interest in public health, early childhood education and the fight against income inequalities. “This will be what I will focus on when this mission is over. So I want to serve. I will find the right way to serve and the right time to serve.
Mr de Blasio’s move towards a possible gubernatorial candidacy comes even as the city he currently rules faces extraordinary challenges and an uncertain future, and if he were to step into what could be a an overcrowded and well-funded area, it would face significant obstacles.
His approval ratings in New York have been low, according to the few publicly available polls, and he faces deep skepticism elsewhere in the state – an environment similar to what he has faced, without success, in his 2020 presidential candidacy. A gubernatorial candidacy would be contrary to the best judgment even of some people he sees as 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, chairman of the Democratic County Committee, which backed Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday. “De Blasio, I would say, would have no support if not negative here.”
In a debate during the Democratic New York mayor’s primary this year, candidates were asked to raise their hands if they accepted Mr. de Blasio’s endorsement. Only one candidate did – a sign of the mayor’s position in his own party.
It could also face significant competition in the city, not to mention the rest of the state. New York Attorney General Letitia James, who like Mr de Blasio is from Brooklyn, is said to be on the verge of making a final decision on a possible campaign. Jumaane D. Williams, another Brooklyn Democrat and city public advocate, has already started exploring a potential race, and other party members are also wondering if they should participate in the race.
Asked if New York should have another white male governor – Ms Hochul is the first woman to lead the state; Ms James and Mr Williams are black, and Ms James could be the first black woman to rule a state in the country – Mr de Blasio appeared to dismiss the question last week.
“We need people from all walks of life to be involved in government,” he said.
His plans could change. Peter Ragone, the councilor who could be closest to Mr de Blasio’s deliberations, insisted the mayor had not made a decision.
“The simple fact is that he hasn’t made any final decision on what to do next,” Ragone said. “The mayor believes in public service because he can do things like push universal pre-K and 3-K. That’s why millions of New Yorkers have voted for him over the past 12 years, much to the dismay of political insiders.
Many New York Democrats are in disbelief that Mr. de Blasio is running and, at the same time, think he could, pointing to the failure of his presidential bid as proof that he has an appetite for tough campaigns and an unwavering faith in one’s own political potential.
Marc Molinaro, the Dutchess County executive and unsuccessful 2018 gubernatorial candidate, said many of his fellow Republicans, as well as independent state voters, blamed Mr. de Blasio for “the increase in crime and deterioration of the economic and economic situation “. social force of New York City.
Despite this, Mr Molinaro, who said he got along well with Mr de Blasio, warned that it would be unwise to overlook the mayor’s political prowess.
“I would not underestimate his ability to develop a coalition within his party,” Molinaro said. “He’s very good at it.
De Blasio’s allies also note that in his mayoral election he assembled a diverse coalition in the country’s largest city, with strong support from black voters, although this dynamic is hardly guaranteed to continue. transfer to a potentially congested area in a statewide race. .
Reverend Al Sharpton, the civil rights leader, said he had recently spoken with Mr de Blasio about a possible race, but the mayor had not indicated whether he had made a final decision.
“He has a certain reputation in the progressive community, he has a certain reputation in the communities of color,” Mr. Sharpton said. “It should not be taken lightly. “
Other veterans of New York politics were less interested in discussing the mayor’s future prospects.
“I pass very rarely, but I don’t want to get involved in anything that is negative,” said Charles B. Rangel, former congressman from Harlem, after laughing when asked about his. opinion on a potential led by M. de Blasio. “And I can’t think of anything positive.”