NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio Ends 2020 Presidential Bid

Sep 21, 2019
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New York's mayor, Bill de Blasio, ended his presidential campaign Friday. As Dorothy Parker of The New Yorker once wrote, how can they tell? From member station WNYC, Brigid Bergin reports that some New Yorkers are glad he's home - others, not so much.

BRIGID BERGIN, BYLINE: New York City is a tough town. It's big and loud and demands attention, especially from its elected officials. So when its mayor, Bill de Blasio, entered a historically crowded Democratic presidential field this spring as the 23rd candidate, some treated it like a joke.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT")

STEPHEN COLBERT: This morning, yet another new Democratic candidate pushed his way into the clown car.

BERGIN: That's "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert."

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT")

COLBERT: I'm talking about New York City mayor and Frankenstein's monster's lawyer...

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT: ...Bill de Blasio. You hear the hometown crowd warmly receiving that.

(LAUGHTER)

BERGIN: So when he announced he was suspending his campaign, it's no surprise some New Yorkers were rather pleased.

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JOANNA NIX: Good for him. Good for him realizing that there was no chance of winning.

YOLANDA ROTONDO: I don't think that people really, really think of him as presidential quality.

CARL MATCHETT: That's the thing. It's like, you got stuff happening, and you don't even know about it, bro. But you supposed to be taking care of the city.

BERGIN: That was Joanna Nix, Yolanda Rotondo and Carl Matchett, all in Brooklyn, the mayor's home borough. De Blasio ran a campaign aimed at bringing his style of progressive leadership to a national stage, pointing to real progressive accomplishments, not just progressive ideas, as he put it on the campaign trail. But this was a tough summer for the mayor. In July, a five-hour blackout knocked out power for thousands, including all Broadway theaters.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTORS: (Singing) Ooh, it's a blackout. Hey, hey. Ooh, it's a blackout.

BERGIN: Here's the cast of the Tony Award-winning musical "Hadestown" performing on the street in a video that went viral.

At that very moment, de Blasio was in Iowa campaigning and scrambled to return to the city. His absence was an issue. And it became a real point of contention when, just three days later, the Justice Department announced, after five long years, it would not bring charges against a police officer whose illegal chokehold led to the death of a Staten Island man named Eric Garner. This is his sister, Alicia Flagg Garner, demanding the city fire that officer immediately.

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ALICIA FLAGG GARNER: De Blasio, step up. Do your job. Stop trying to be a president when you can't even be a mayor. Get here today.

BERGIN: And now he's back, although he says he never left. But supporter Simone Hodge, also from Brooklyn, praised what the mayor's done, especially around early childhood education and says she's disappointed he's leaving the presidential race...

SIMONE HODGE: Because the mayor is a people person. He's just not a selfish person. You know, a lot of people cannot see, but he did a lot for New York City.

BERGIN: Carl Matchett is glad the mayor can give all his attention back to the city.

MATCHETT: I'll put it like this - handle home before you try to handle the world.

BERGIN: Speaking outside Gracie Mansion, the mayor's historic residence on the East River, De Blasio says New Yorkers know all the progress he's made.

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BILL DE BLASIO: I think everyday New Yorkers get it. I think the insiders like to talk about it a certain way. But everyday New Yorkers see things happening all the time. And you're going to be seeing a lot more over the next two years, three months and 11 days.

BERGIN: That's how much time de Blasio has left before he's term-limited out of office. And he says he's determined to make that time count. For NPR News, I'm Brigid Bergin in New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.