What should be slam dunk for de Blasio may be ‘jump ball’

Former Mayor Bill de Blasio. Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020.
Photo courtesy of Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office.

As a growing field of political heavy hitters joins the race for the newly drawn 10th Congressional District, political operatives say Ex-Mayor Bill de Blasio might not have as easy a time getting to the halls of Congress as he would like.

De Blasio announced his candidacy for the new district that will cover much of lower Manhattan and several Brownstone Brooklyn neighborhoods last week several hours before Steuben County court-appointed map-maker Jonathan Cervas released the finalized Congressional maps. The new district de Blasio is vying for overlaps with much of the area he represented on the City Council during the 2000s, which includes Park Slope, Cobble Hill, Sunset Park and part of Borough Park.

While de Blasio – a longtime Park Slope resident – has deep political roots in the new District 10. While city council member, he also came out in support of two major projects during his tenure – Brooklyn Bridge Park and the Barclays Center/Atlantic Yards project – doing so despite some local advocates and progressives opposing both projects.

Still Democratic strategist and Brooklyn Bridge Park Board of Directors Chair Chris Coffey told PoliticsNY that while de Blasio deserves much credit for pushing particularly the very successful Brooklyn Bridge Park through, the former mayor will have a tough time getting locals to vote for him following his eight years in City Hall.

By the end of his time in office five months back, Coffey said, de Blasio wasn’t popular in Park Slope or in Coffey’s own neighborhood of Cobble Hill.

“Tell me who votes for de Blasio, what’s the type of person?” Coffey said. “I live in the district, I live in Cobble Hill, there’s not one vote in Cobble Hill for Bill de Blasio. They don’t like de Blasio. It’s not all rational by the way. If he runs a good campaign about things he actually got done and shows a bunch of pictures of he and his family in Brooklyn, [then] maybe.”

Additionally, Coffey said, he thinks de Blasio will have trouble getting the backing of Orthodox Jewish leaders in Borough Park because the rank-and-file voters “in that community despise him.”

De Blasio may also find it difficult to pick up the endorsement of several longtime progressive political allies should City Council Member Carlina Rivera (D – Manhattan) – who would not have to give up her seat – decides to enter the contest.

“If Carlina Rivera [runs], which I think she’s running, I would bet you dollars to donuts that [U.S. Rep.] Nydia Velazquez endorses Carlina,” Coffey said.

Coffey added a number of left-leaning activists as well as the Asian community will likely line-up behind Lower Manhattan Assembly Member Yuh-Line Niou. 

One political operative with knowledge of the district told PoliticsNY that de Blasio likely won’t get support from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other key figures in the Democratic House leadership either. Because Republicans would likely lump him in with more far-left lawmakers like Congress Member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D – Bronx, Queens).

“The national Democrats, like Pelosi and all of them, do not want de Blasio,” the operative said. “Because de Blasio, think about it, is a Republican ad-maker’s dream. Every Republican ad-maker will say ‘AOC and de Blasio, he’s so toxic.’”

There’s a strong chance House leadership could instead get behind Congress Member Mondaire Jones, who currently represents the 17th Congressional District that covers parts of Westchester and Rockland County, the operative said.

Jones announced his run for the open seat in District 10 Saturday after Congress Member Sean Patrick Maloney (D – Hudson Valley) – who leads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) – announced he’d be running in the new 17th District instead of his current 18 District, which was redrawn as a swing seat. So, the leadership may back Jones’ candidacy as a favor in exchange for Maloney kicking him out of his district, the operative said.

Because Jones is a sitting Congressional Member he already has a fundraising advantage on his opponents, with a $3 million war chest. 

All in all, Coffey said, right now, this could be anyone’s race.

“Mondaire has $3 million, he’s got a great record, but he’s not spent time in the district,” Coffey concluded. “Bill de Blasio has no money, is the only Brooklyn candidate running. Carlina and Yuh-Line are from Manhattan. Yuh-Line is going to do really well with the activist crowd. Carlina is going to do well with progressives and women. I think it’s a jump ball.”