One of the things to keep in mind about an open presidential nominating contest with no clear front-runner is that an awful lot of politicians have been thinking of themselves as White House material since about the third grade. Add in the wildly unlikely identity of the 2016 winner and you have a recipe for egos running wild.
In addition, as I noted recently, to the extent there are big, dominant figures in the potential 2020 Democratic field, they are Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, and Elizabeth Warren, who will be 78, 77, and 71 years old, respectively, when Iowans head to their Caucuses to formally begin the cycle. Maybe one or more of them will be there at the 2020 starting line, and maybe they won’t — it is not in their interests to tell us until the final decision has been made.
So it’s a very silly season for presidential speculation, and sure enough, the silly idea of Bill de Blasio becoming POTUS has arrived, via “Page Six”:
De Blasio, 56, will claim he’s the rightful standard bearer for the progressive wing of the Democratic party.
Sounds like Hizzoner has gotten a bit too complacent thanks to his easy-breezy path to reelection this year. If there has been any buzz for the New York mayor among the People of the Bern or other self-conscious progressives, it’s been a very low-level hum. He was not listed among the 19 Democrats whose approval ratings were tested in a June poll by Politico and Morning Consult. A former Missouri secretary of State and two corporate execs who have never run for office did make the cut. But neither did de Blasio’s least favorite fellow New York Democrat, Andrew Cuomo.
Most obviously, Sanders and Warren are not going to get out of the way just because de Blasio thinks they are too old, and there are plenty of other aspirants — rightful or not — to the mantle of progressive leadership if neither of them run. Those might even include the mayor’s junior senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, who has been feeling her progressive oats of late.
It is probably an anachronistic habit that all governors of New York and mayors of New York City think of themselves as presidential timber. The last two Gotham mayors to run for president — John Lindsay in 1972 and Rudy Giuliani in 2008 — were ignominious failures. De Blasio’s “awkward” tour of Iowa on behalf of Hillary Clinton in early 2016 does not auger well for a presidential run of his own. Politico summed it up at the time:
The four-day trip 1,100 miles from home to campaign for a political candidate, unusual if not unprecedented in modern times for a sitting New York City mayor, was a political mortification of the flesh — a strange spectacle of uncertain benefit to either the Clinton campaign in Iowa or to de Blasio’s own image as figure of potential national political influence.
For de Blasio to go back to Iowa on his own behalf would be a “strange spectacle” of “uncertain benefit” for sure.
He might want not only to get through his reelection campaign but to improve his popularity at home before thinking about entering the White House as anything other than a visitor.