Bill de Blasio becomes third mayor to enter 2020 race. How will his fundraising match up?
Bill de Blasio, two-term mayor of New York City, became the third mayor to jump straight into the 2020 Democratic primary on May 16, despite a poll indicating 76 percent of his constituents believe he shouldn’t run. De Blasio joins Pete Buttigieg, mayor of the significantly smaller South Bend, Indiana, and Wayne Messam, mayor of Miramar, Florida, as candidates looking to become the first person to go directly from mayor to president.
In a campaign announcement video, de Blasio says “There’s plenty of money in this world. There’s plenty of money in this country. It’s just in the wrong hands,” indicating his central message will remain the fight against income inequality.
De Blasio, who has made a name for himself as a progressive, first entered politics as an aid worker and activist in support of the Nicaraguan Sandinista government. Later, he was the regional director for Housing and Urban Development in the New York-New Jersey region and then the campaign manager for Hillary Clinton’s Senate campaign in 2000. He was elected to the New York City Council in 2001 and served until 2009. Then, he ran for and won the position of New York City Public Advocate which he was until his successful mayoral bid in 2013. De Blasio won his 2013 and 2016 elections for mayor by landslide margins.
As mayor of one of America’s largest cities, de Blasio pursued a slew of liberal policies such as universal pre-kindergarten education, affordable housing and marijuana legalization. He also often clashed with the NYPD over criminal justice issues, like the requirement of body cams, reduction of stop-and-frisk policies and, notably, the choking death of Eric Garner at the hands of NYPD officers. De Blasio also sought to put an end to New York City’s post-9/11 Muslim surveillance program. He also unsuccessfully attempted to implement a millionaires tax to help fund improvements to the MTA subway system, a policy that is consistently blocked by the more conservative Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo. De Blasio also touts his immigration credentials, including “decreased cooperation with ICE.”
He is not without controversy however. De Blasio faced a federal investigation into his fundraising methods as mayor and whether he set up city contracts for donors. No charges were filed in the case. A Quinnipiac poll from April 3 found that de Blasio had a 42 percent approval rating among New Yorkers, with just 18 percent of respondents agreeing he should run for president.
Like the rest of the Democratic field, de Blasio is an opponent of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. In 2010, he created the Coalition for Accountability in Political Spending which touted itself as “the nation’s first bi-partisan coalition of public officials dedicated to transparency and accountability in corporate political spending.” The group attempted to convince corporations to change their campaign finance policies to be more transparent.
Likely in preparation for his presidential run, de Blasio launched a federal leadership PAC, named Fairness PAC, for the 2018 election cycle. The PAC raised $470,427 in the cycle, more than de Blasio’s fellow mayoral presidential candidate Buttigieg’s PAC. However, he did contribute significantly less than Buttigieg to federal candidates, just $16,198. The PAC gave to two Senate candidates and four House candidates — only Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Ga.) and Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) were successful. Buttigieg recently shuttered his PAC, while de Blasio’s remains active.
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