Predictions that a New York politician would be the Democratic nominee for president in 2016 have set the city's political realm abuzz. The candidate in question, however, isn't Hillary Clinton. It's a politician with a decidedly shorter resume: first-term mayor and progressive champion Bill de Blasio.
Early Monday, the New York Post reported that the forecast emerged in a game of political telephone: A source told the paper that Ed Cox, New York's state GOP chairman, said de Blasio will be the 2016 Democratic nominee. Cox, the son-in-law of former President Nixon, said a prominent "Democratic lobbyist" had tipped him off to the possibility.
"It's like Barack Obama," Cox told "a recent gathering," according to the source. "He was a brand-new freshman senator, and he ran for president and won. I think de"‰Blasio is going to do it."
At the gathering, Cox cited the Democratic lobbyist as saying the mayor is prepping a run by positioning himself as a progressive leader. The mayor's public rebuke last week urging his party find to its "backbone" of core, liberal values in the wake of a crushing midterm loss doesn't exactly quell those rumors.
But a de Blasio run is unlikely, if not outright ridiculous. The hard-left agenda that de Blasio contends is the key to national Democratic success just isn't realistic for the rest of the country, says longtime Democratic consultant Hank Sheinkopf told National Journal.
"It's very hard to be the mayor of New York City and run for anything else," Sheinkopf said. "The diversity of the city, and the heterogeneous nature of the population, means that some of the things you're going to say just won't fit in other parts of the nation."
More importantly, there are already other progressives—with higher national profiles—flirting with a 2016 bid. Though Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has said she isn't running, Ready for Warren, a Chicago-based group organizing to push her into the race, has gained traction in the last few months. There's no such group for de Blasio. And despite his calls for a return to progressive views, he wouldn't even be the most liberal candidate: Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a self-described socialist, has all but announced his run. For a candidate whose chief campaign rationale would be to offer a liberal alternative to Clinton, de Blasio would have some stiff competition.
But even that logic doesn't add up. De Blasio is closely tied to Clinton, having managed her Senate campaign in 2000. He likely wouldn't want to tread on an ally's territory.
All of this belies the most salient point: De Blasio doesn't have the experience necessary for a serious bid. No incumbent mayor of New York has ever successfully run for president, and Rudy Giuliani, the last former mayor who ran, barely made an impression in the 2008 Republican primaries.
Though de Blasio rose through the New York political ranks relatively quickly, Sheinkopf said that doesn't necessarily mean he has the mettle to make it outside of Manhattan.
By the time of the Democratic convention in 2016, "he will only have been in office under three years," Sheinkopf said. And because he's only been on the job since the first of this year, he has yet to prove himself as a viable national candidate. "Every day in New York is another day at the beach, which means you get sand thrown at you," he said. "And there's a lot of sand to be tossed yet."
For his part, de Blasio seems to be flattered by the rumors, while not at all taking them seriously. "This is one of the more surreal moments I've experienced—when the state GOP chairman is telling you what I'm doing with my life," he told reporters at a press conference Monday.
He might actually not want to be president. Or perhaps he's appraised the long list of reasons he wouldn't cut it. After all, Sheinkopf said, "it is a big leap to cross the Hudson to get to the rest of the country."
This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.
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