NEW YORK—New York Mayor Bill de Blasio appears to be setting his sights on Albany.
The term-limited mayor of New York City, who mounted a failed presidential bid two years ago, is laying the groundwork for a possible run for governor.
Although he stopped short of announcing his candidacy on Tuesday, de Blasio agreed that the paperwork he filed creating a committee to address statewide political issues suggests he’s preparing to join what is shaping up to be a crowded field of Democrats eyeing the governor’s mansion.
“Draw your own conclusions,” de Blasio said with a grin during an appearance on CNN.
The outgoing mayor went on to agree with anchor John Berman’s assessment that his actions suggest that he’s “not not running.”
“I like that. Use the double negative,” he said. “That always works.”
De Blasio went on to tout what he considers as his successes as mayor, including establishing universal pre-kindergarten, adding affordable housing and police reforms.
He also took credit for the city’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis, despite his current vaccine mandate drama, arguing that his leadership made New York one of the safest places in the country amid the pandemic.
De Blasio trashed hundreds of FDNY firefighters for calling in sick in a protest against the city’s vaccine mandate, accusing them of defying the will of New Yorkers.
“If you’re not sick, get to work,” he said. “Protect your fellow New Yorkers, be there for your fellow firefighters. Stop playing this game.”
The mayor said his decision to require shots for city workers is a crucial example of his willingness to take charge in tough times.
Despite opposition from some cops and firefighters, he said the policy has the overwhelming support of the New Yorkers who pay their salaries.
“I say this to every mayor in America, every governor, every CEO of a company in America: Put vaccine mandates into effect. It works,” de Blasio said. “This is what is going to make us safe. You got to do it so that we can actually end the COVID era.”
But the defiance from municipal workers is just the latest pushback de Blasio has faced during his tumultuous tenure at City Hall. Despite policy gains, he is more often remembered for his 11-mile daily commute to a Brooklyn gym.
If de Blasio does throw his hat in the ring for the June primary, it would set up a Titanic Democratic primary battle against political heavyweights Gov. Hochul and Attorney General Letitia James, both of whom have already announced their candidacies.
Other candidates are said to be waiting in the wings, and even scandal-plagued former Gov. Andrew Cuomo hasn’t ruled out a comeback effort.
Hochul became the first woman to lead the state after Cuomo resigned in August amid multiple allegations of sexual harassment detailed in a report issued by James’ office.
Cuomo has denied any wrongdoing and has roughly $18 million left in his campaign account. Hochul has been courting deep-pocketed donors in recent weeks as James entered the fray last Friday.
Democratic Party chairman Jay Jacobs endorsed Hochul early last month, saying he was hoping to avoid a fractious primary. That seems unlikely as others including Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and Long Island Rep. Tom Suozzi, D-N.Y., are also considering entering the race.
Long Island Rep. Lee Zeldin, former Westchester executive Rob Astorino and Andrew Giuliani, the son of former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, are vying for the Republican nod.
Hochul holds a sizable early lead among Democrats, according to polling conducted last month. A Marist survey found the incumbent held a double-digit lead over both James and Williams.
Hochul also came out on top with 39 percent in a Siena College poll that placed de Blasio dead last behind James and Williams at 6 percent.
De Blasio, who embarked on a failed four-month-long White House bid in 2019, brushed off his apparent unpopularity with New York voters.
“I have seen polls like that literally every time I’ve run for office,” he said during a press briefing two weeks ago. “If I worried about stuff like that I wouldn’t be sitting in this chair right now, literally. If I had been daunted and overawed by early polling, I wouldn’t have bothered to keep forging ahead—and I’m glad I forged ahead.”
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