Mayor Bill de Blasio visited the key presidential primary state of South Carolina this weekend, where he tested his message among progressive groups and said he would make a decision about entering the 2020 race “sooner rather than later.”
It’s the second trip to a primary state in two weeks for de Blasio, who is attempting to raise his profile among Democratic voters nationwide.
Accompanied by first ladyChirlane McCray, de Blasio visited the capital city of Columbia, where he spoke at a local Democrats club, held roundtables on mental health and legal justice and met with former state Democratic Party chairman Jaime Harrison, who may challenge Sen. Lindsey Graham for his seat in 2020, and attended a house party for local Democratic heavyweights, the Charleston Post and Courier reported.
On Sunday, the first couple headed to a church service, then to Charleston for an education roundtable.
“Sooner rather than later,” de Blasio said about when he’d make a decision. “Obviously, there is a clock running, but the bottom line is we understand something like this is a huge, huge endeavor. It’s a family decision. But we also know how important it is to go and talk to people, particularly in the states that will be decisive.”
Some of de Blasio’s hometown critics made the trip with him. The Police Benevolent Association paid for a digital billboard, which declared that de Blasio is “no friend of labor,” to follow him around. The Transit Workers Union also bought advertising in the state labeling de Blasio a “corporate Democrat fauxgressive.”
De Blasio attempted to defuse the criticism, Southern-style — “As we say in New York,” he joked, “bless their hearts” — and played up NYC’s progressive bona fides, saying his policies on safety, the economy and education had made life better for the average New Yorker.
Regardless of the temperature in the Palmetto State, New Yorkers haven’t warmed to a de Blasio run. A Jan. 23 Quinnipiac poll ranked de Blasio dead last among New Yorkers’ picks for president, with 5 percent of the vote. Even Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (who at age 29 is too young to run) outpolled him at 7 percent. Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg came in first at 28 percent, followed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo at 17 percent, and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand — who has actually launched a 2020 presidential campaign — with 11 percent. Bloomberg announced last week that he would not run.