After months of coy flirtation, outgoing New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday said he'd make news on a bid for governor "very, very, very soon," potentially jumping into a crowded primary despite substantial polling questioning his chances.
For months, De Blasio has done nothing to tamp down the "will he or won't he" speculation, filing paperwork to lay the groundwork for a campaign and telling supporters he was strongly considering a run -- but also steadfastly refusing to answer questions about whether he was actually in, or when he'd decide.
In what was billed as an exit interview on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Monday, De Blasio said he'd have news on a governor bid "real, real soon" and later said "very, very, very soon," while not offering any more hints than that.
The two-term mayor would face an uphill battle in a crowded primary that includes Gov. Kathy Hochul, NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and Long Island Rep. Tom Suozzi.
Get Tri-state area news and weather forecasts to your inbox. Sign up for NBC New York newsletters.
Add in persistent (and oft-denied) rumors of a comeback from former governor Andrew Cuomo, and it could be one of the hardest-fought races in America next year.
De Blasio also faces questions about ongoing debts to lawyers and campaign consultants dating back years, and the lingering hangover from his four-month campaign for president in 2019.
A mid-August Co/efficient poll put De Blasio fully 20+ points behind Hochul and Attorney General Letitia James in a three-way primary contest. Another August poll, from Slingshot Strategies, had De Blasio running ninth in a more crowded Democratic primary, with just 3% support.
That same poll asked voters who they could support from a list of 15 candidates, and who they absolutely could not support, and then subtracted one from the other to find a net support score. At -30, De Blasio was dead last and 25 points behind the next-worst candidate on the list.
More recently, a Siena poll in early December put De Blasio fully 30 points behind Hochul in a theoretical primary matchup.
But none of those polls took into account James' surprise decision to drop out of the race, which could refigure the contest.
And in any discussion about the mayor's popularity, his supporters point to his electoral track record too. In 2013, polls had then-Public Advocate De Blasio running a distant third in the mayoral primary a month before the vote; he went on to win handily.
In 2017, amid a federal fundraising investigation, 50% of voters told a Marist Poll De Blasio had done something illegal or unethical; he was still easily re-elected.