New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has dramatically expanded prekindergarten, created or preserved thousands of affordable housing units and largely kept the city safe. Most Democrats in the city approve of the job he’s doing and have a favorable opinion of him. In the wake of Donald Trump’s election as president and a Republican sweep in Congress, shellshocked Democrats are closing ranks around their incumbents across the country.
But de Blasio, up for re-election this year, is not guaranteed an easy path to another four years at City Hall. A number of Democrats are waiting to see whether any criminal charges are handed down after reports that de Blasio allies allegedly intentionally circumvented campaign finance laws or gave donors preferable treatment at City Hall. Some primary challengers have already jumped in. For other potential Democratic rivals, the decision to run will hinge on whether charges are brought, and if so, their severity and how much de Blasio knew. De Blasio has insisted that he and his team broke no laws.
With so many unknowns, City & State sidestepped the early speculation about who’s in and who’s out. Instead, we reached out to the handful of Democrats who are widely seen to be considering a bid – as well as those who have already announced – to ask how the city is faring and what strategies they might employ to better serve the five boroughs.
Their responses – touching on everything from government corruption to charter schools – offer an early look at some of the issues that will dominate the Democratic mayoral primary.
Nearly every potential challenger criticized the mayor for not doing enough to help the homeless. The mayor has called homelessness his No. 1 frustration, but argued that his administration has made progress. Another complaint is that de Blasio’s feud with Gov. Andrew Cuomo has cost the city in school and transit resources, to which City Hall has said it is necessary to challenge the governor, as many past mayors have done. Although de Blasio says crime has reached historic lows as officers curtail their use of stop-and-frisk and take a more collaborative approach, his reform efforts may be picked apart by critics on the right and the left.