By William Lewis
It is rare that those elected New York City mayor or governor have not had the ambition to run for higher office. In the case of mayor, none have advanced further since the 1850s.
When we look at the contemporary list, we see that Mayors Robert Wagner, John Lindsay, Rudy Giuliani and Ed Koch all sought to obtain higher office. However, they failed.
Robert Wagner wanted very much to obtain the office of U.S. senator, which had been held by his father for many years. Wagner had hoped that the Democratic Party would give him the nomination, however, that was not to materialize.
In the case of John Lindsay, he ran for president in the Republican primaries, yet failed to achieve his party’s nomination.
Rudy Giuliani ran in the presidential primary in 2008 and lost.
Ed Koch ran for governor against Mario Cuomo in the Democratic primary and was defeated. He never ran for higher office again.
As for governors, there have been a few from New York who have reached the office of president, the most notable being Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt.
Political observers have wondered why incumbent mayors have not gone into higher office. First, the office of mayor of New York City is an extremely busy one, making it difficult for the mayor to leave the city and campaign. The mayor, especially if he is in office a long time, can make political enemies, which could hurt his chances. It also seems that the electorate of New York City doesn’t like the idea of our mayor leaving the city and campaigning for higher office.
All of the forementioned mayors had qualifications.
When we look at the mayor’s race this year, Bill de Blasio will face a tough race in the 2020 Democratic primary. If he should win the Democratic primary, he may face a difficult race in the general election that fall.
The mayor’s office has been an office of high status and prestige throughout its history. Hopefully, that will continue in the future.