So Much For Bill de Blasio

Bill de Blasio ended his presidential campaign today.

I’m going to miss him.  His presidential campaign was even more improbable than Eric Swalwell’s and distinguished by even more hubris.  His campaign served as a reminder that every politician, no matter how incompetent and unpopular, wakes up every morning and sees a future president staring back at them from the bathroom mirror.

The main lesson to learned from the de Blasio campaign is the lesson that many politicians have had to learn the hard way.  If you want to be president, don’t run for mayor of New York.

Gillibrand’s Out

Kirsten Gillibrand ended her presidential campaign yesterday so we are now down to just 20 major Democratic candidates.

Though it may be hard to remember now but Gillibrand was a big deal in the early months of 2017.  That was when she made a name for herself by voting against every single Trump cabinet nominee.  At the time, she got the type of fawning coverage that, today, is usually reserved for Elizabeth Warren.  Gillibrand was also the first Democratic presidential contender to regularly curse while giving interviews.  The next time Beto strategically drops an F-bomb, remember that he’s ripping off Kirsten Gillibrand.

It’s easy to say that Gillibrand’s presidential campaign failed to catch on because donors never forgave her for leading the charge to pressure Al Franken into resigning his seat.  I know just how easy it is because I said it on twitter right after I heard that Gillibrand was withdrawing from the race.  It is true that, after Franken resigned, many Democratic donors did announce that they would never give money to Gillibrand.  (I have honestly seen toddlers react to breaking a favorite toy with more maturity than many Democrats have shown over losing Al Franken.)

However, having watched her campaign for the last five months, I think there was another reason why Gillibrand never gained much momentum in the race.  She was simply a terrible candidate.  If Kirsten Gillibrand told you the sky was blue, you would still want to step outside and check before taking her word on it.  If you offered her a big enough contribution, you could probably convince Gillibrand to flip and declare that the sky’s actually green and she only said it was blue because she was originally elected from a conservative, upstate district where voters were not smart enough to understand what colour the sky actually was.

With Gillibrand withdrawing, it falls upon Andrew Yang and Bill de Blasio to carry the banner of New York in the Democratic primary.  Yang is perhaps the only interesting Democrat running this year and he doesn’t seem likely to drop out any time soon.  As for de Blasio, dropping out would mean returning to New York City so it’s probably for the best that he stay in Iowa where no one knows him.

Remember when J. Jonah Jameson Was Elected Mayor of New York City?

It didn’t turn out well, of course.  Mayor Jameson spent too much time obsession on Spider-Man and not enough time fixing the subways.  That shouldn’t have taken anyone by surprise.  New Yorkers knew what they were getting when they voted for him but they elected him anyway.

As mayor, Jameson ended up getting manipulated by both Doctor Octopus and the Green Goblin.  It’s no wonder that Mayor Jameson failed to even finish his first term before having to resign.

He was still better than de Blasio, though.

Gracie Mansion: Where Dreams Go To Die

It’s been said that being Mayor of New York City is the “second toughest job in America.”  Only being President is tougher.  Of course, the President doesn’t have to deal with trying to fix the subways so how tough is his job, really?

I can understand why so many New York politicians dream of being mayor.  New York City may be “ungovernable,” as John Lindsay used to put it, but it’s still the center of both America’s culture and its economy.  Being mayor means that you’re in charge of one of the most important cities in the world.  It also means becoming an instant celebrity.

The job is also a political dead end.

Since 1665, there have been over a hundred mayors of New York City.  Only two of them have gone on to higher office after serving as mayor.

DeWitt Clinton was appointed the position in 1803, after having briefly served in the U.S. Senate.  While still serving as mayor, Clinton ran for President in 1812 and came close to defeating James Madison.  Clinton would later be elected governor.

Fernando Wood was a former Congressman who was twice elected mayor, once in 1854 and again in 1860.  During the Civil War, Wood suggested that the city should secede from the United States so that it could continue to trade with the Confederacy.  Wood’s opposition to the Civil War put an end to his presidential ambitions but he was reelected to Congress after his mayoral term ended.

And that’s it.  Others have tried but none have succeeded.

In 1940, President Roosevelt reportedly considered naming Fiorello H. La Guardia to be his running mate but it’s not known how serious Roosevelt was about the idea.

In 1956, Mayor Robert F. Wagner was the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate but was defeated by Jacob Javits.  That same year, Wagner was briefly a candidate for the Democratic vice presidential nomination but lost to Estes Kefauver.

John V. Lindsay, who was once compared to JFK, probably could have been named Nixon’s running mate in ’68 or been appointed to Bobby Kennedy’s senate seat if he hadn’t made an enemy of Governor Nelson Rockefeller.  Instead, the Republican Lindsay ended up switching to the Democratic Party in 1971, running unsuccessfully for President in 1972, and making a final and futile grasp for political relevance by running for the U.S. Senate in 1980.  (He came in third in the primary.)

Ed Koch tried to parlay his national popularity into a run for governor in 1982 and was defeated in the primary by Mario Cuomo, whom Koch had previously defeated in the 1977 mayoral election.  Upstate voters were not as enamored with Koch as New York City was.  (And the city would later turn on Koch in 1989, rejecting him in favor of David Dinkins.)

The presidential campaigns of George B. McClellan, Jr., William Jay Gaynor, Lindsay, and Rudy Giuliani all failed to go anywhere and Mayor Bill de Blasio’s 2020 campaign has become a national joke.

And then there’s a case of Michael Bloomberg, who flirts with an improbable presidential run every four years.  Because he’s rich, Bloomberg is always taken seriously as a candidate, despite the fact that his every attempt to influence policy outside of New York has been a flop.

The most successful politician to run for Mayor of New York was someone who not only lost the election but came in a poor third, behind the winning Democrat and an insurgent socialist.  Teddy Roosevelt may have lost the 1886 mayoral election but, 15 years later, he would become President of the United States.  Would Roosevelt have ever become President if he had won that mayoral election?

Gracie Mansion is where dreams go to die.