It's Anyone's Game. But Do We Really Need DeBlasio in It?

Associated Press

Associated Press

Leave it to New York to specialize in producing presidential candidates their own neighbors can't stand. First there was Donald Trump, known here as a cartoonish figure no one has taken seriously since the '90s. The latest aspirant is Bill DeBlasio, a second-term mayor notable for sustaining a low-grade disdain among nearly all of New York's many constituencies. A recent poll showed that 76 percent of New Yorkers don't think he should run. And he's a Red Sox fan to boot.

Not exactly a launching pad.

Putting aside DeBlasio's particular brand of progressive politics, it will be interesting to see where the mayor thinks he can slot into this already crowded Democratic field. His opening gambit was a three-minute video touting his support of "working families." Alas, there were not any shots of DeBlasio with any working families. Instead, there were shots of him in the back of his city SUV—infamous here in New York for shuttling the supposedly green-minded mayor 11 miles every morning to his gym in Brooklyn.

With his dire local approval ratings, DeBlasio is running solely on a manufactured message. It will be fascinating to see if he can muster the spin and persuasion needed to stand out among 22 other candidates. Trump, after all, managed to do it with an even spottier record and no government experience. DeBlasio doesn't have the bombast of Trump, but he does have New York. Like him or not, he "made it" here. Whether he can fulfill's Sinatra's prophecy and "make it anywhere" remains to be seen.

Some unsolicited advice: get out of the SUV and mingle with the people. Mayors from LaGuardia to Koch knew the power of the streets, the energy that could be marshalled on behalf of a candidacy. Images of a New York mayor mingling with constituents play bigger around the country because, well, this is a bigger place. It looks more impressive than standing on a diner table in Council Bluffs. The mayor is not a glad-hander by nature, alas, so whether he can exploit that sort of imagery may doubtful.

Larry HackettComment