By Bill Parry
When Hillary Clinton made her candidacy official Sunday by video, New York’s Democratic leaders raced to offer their endorsements. Except for Mayor Bill de Blasio.
U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria) was so anxious to endorse her friend, she held a “Ready for Hillary” rally the day before the announcement.
“I’ve known Hillary for more than 20 years, and I worked closely with her when she was our senator,” Maloney said. “She understands how to get things done. She’s tenacious and she fights for what she believes in. She’s the most qualified candidate to run for President in my lifetime.”
Maloney’s colleague in the House, Joe Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), added his endorsement saying, “With the promise of the American dream hanging in the balance this election, we need a leader who will create opportunities for our middle class, a leader who will keep us safe at home while maintaining our respect abroad, a leader who will reaffirm our core democratic values, and a leader who has the experience to get things done. That leader is Hillary Clinton, and I am proud to officially announce my full support of her candidacy for President of the United States.”
Crowley is head of the Queens Democratic machine.
U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillebrand added their endorsements Sunday, while Gov. Andrew Cuomo praised the candidate, saying, “Hillary Clinton has been a lifelong champion for middle-class families, an advocate for the underserved, and a fighter for civil rights.”
In a marked departure from other city Democrats, de Blasio went on national television and said, “Like a lot of people in this country, I want to see a vision. I think she’s one of the most qualified people to ever run for this office and, by the way, thoroughly vetted, but we need to see the substance.”
Viewers of the interviewon NBC’s “Meet the Press,” were surprised and social media exploded. Critics accused de Blasio of being disloyal after he ran her campaign for senator in New York in 2000 and had Bill Clinton swear him in as mayor.
One political consultant saw things differently.
“There is plenty of time for the mayor to endorse,” George Artz, Ed Koch’s chief of staff, said. “His endorsement will be worth much more later on in the campaign than it is right now. He is a prized endorsement as a leader of the progressive wing of the party. Now with all this latest hullabaloo over the non-endorsement there isn’t a political reporter in this city and many in Washington who would not come to a de Blasio press conference endorsing Hillary. In the end, we all know he will be on board in a key role.”
De Blasio kept a low profile and refused questions at the Mets Opening Day at Citi Field Monday. The mayor finally addressed the controversy Tuesday in the Bronx, and he stood by his comments.
“What I said on ‘Meet the Press’ I had said previously to Secretary Clinton and her team,” he said. “I don’t think there was any surprise in it.” He added that while she was secretary of state Clinton wasn’t in a position to address domestic issues.
The mayor ran through a list of what he needs to hear, mainly dealing with the issue of income inequality.
“It’s the same thing I’ve said publicly: progressive taxation, raising wages and benefits, investment in infrastructure and education, the willingness to tax the wealthy so we have the resources to actually change the dynamic in this country,” he said.
In her first campaign event Tuesday at Kirk Wood Community College in Iowa, Clinton pledged to fight income inequality.
“I think it’s fair to say that as you look across the country, the deck is stacked in favor of those already at the top,” she said. “And there’s something wrong with that. There’s something wrong when CEOs make 300 times more than the typical worker.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr