Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis’ entrance into the New York City mayoral race makes for four serious Republican candidates looking for a chance to unseat incumbent Democrat Bill de Blasio. But with a Democratic voter registration advantage of 6-to-1 in the Big Apple and no Republican performing strongly in the polls, does the winner of the GOP primary even stand a chance?
Elected in 2013, Mayor de Blasio quickly became an unpopular figure in New York Democratic circles. His ongoing feud with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo may be the most infamous of political vendettas in recent history. Even the Clinton family has shown public disdain for the progressive mayor – relegating him to a trivial time slot during the 2016 Democratic National Convention as punishment for a late endorsement.
A challenge from the left seemed extremely plausible throughout his term. However, no real primary attempt has been orchestrated. Tony Avella, a state senator from Queens, and Sal Albanese, a former city councilman, are the only lawmakers giving it a shot. Polling currently shows neither of these Democrats having a shot at running a successful primary. In a hypothetical matchup, de Blasio would surpass the 40 percent mark to avoid a runoff.
From the right, former real estate sales executive Paul Massey appears best positioned to win the GOP primary. His campaign is by far the best organized – with very impressive fundraising numbers and a large operation of staff. Massey is running against Harlem pastor Michael Faulkner and assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis. It is yet to be determined if former police detective and Fox News personality Bo Dietl will enter the race as a Republican or an Independent.
After the dust cleared in the 2013 Democratic primary, de Blasio went on to crush Republican Joe Lhota with 73 percent of the vote. This may have said something about Lhota’s poor skills on the campaign trail, but it also says everything about the difficulty of a Republican running in New York City.
Besides running in a very friendly Democratic environment and no serious challenges coming from the left, de Blasio has scored another victory in his bid for re-election: federal investigations into his fund-raising practices have concluded with no charges being brought forward. The prospect of a federal indictment now off the table, Mayor de Blasio can focus on his election without the weight on scandal on his shoulders.
Is re-election assured for de Blasio?
It may be too soon to make a conclusion. The same Quinnipiac Poll that shows Republican Massey getting steamrolled by the incumbent mayor 59 to 25 percent also reveals that the vast majority of voters do not know Massey or have yet to form an opinion on him – giving him a high ceiling for growth.
Despite an overwhelming voter registration advantage for the Democratic Party, the Big Apple has a history of bucking partisan norms. Before de Blasio’s entrance into City Hall, New York City had not voted for a Democrat mayor in almost twenty years. Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg stunned experts by winning as Republicans (Bloomberg later running as an Independent).
Recent history proves it is possible, but it would be no easy feat for a GOP candidate.
National politics have already come into play in this local race. Massey has attempted to create distance between President Trump and himself by pointing to the fact that his wife voted for Hillary Clinton. Bo Dietl would also be joining the fray with somewhat of a nationwide audience. Like the current president, Dietl has been described to have a larger-than-life personality. His frequent appearances on national T.V. may make him a dark horse candidate and someone to watch as the race moves forward.
de Blasio has somehow managed to appear too liberal for even the deep-blue city he manages. His push for universal pre-k for 3-year-olds and other government projects that are a drain on tax payers have managed to irk even the most liberal of Democrats. These issues with members of own party may explain why his campaign has struggled to attract donors like before. There are signs of cracks atop his leadership of New York City. However, they may not matter at the end of the day.
Despite his flaws, this mayoral election does appear to be de Blasio’s to lose.
Campaign Daily Rating: Safe Democrat