New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio took to national television Thursday morning to propose a new statewide education plan, one he'd have to be governor to implement -- but he adamantly refused to confirm that he actually plans to run.
"There's going to be plenty of time to talk about the political future, and I'm going to stay in public service no matter what," De Blasio said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," urging viewers to go to his website to see his universal 3-K and pre-K plan -- and dodging at least a half-dozen pointed questions about whether he'd run, when he'd announce it, and why he wasn't just confirming it now.
"This is like pulling teeth," a clearly bemused host Joe Scarborough said.
If he runs, the two-term mayor would face an uphill battle in a crowded primary that now includes Gov. Kathy Hochul, Attorney General Letitia James and NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.
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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.
A mid-August Co/efficient poll put De Blasio fully 20+ points behind Hochul and 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.
He 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.
But in any discussion about the mayor's popularity, his supporters point to his track record. 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.