Bill De Blasio, the 109th Mayor of New York City, announced last week that he is running for President of the United States, making a vow to address the level of economic inequality in the country if elected. “There’s plenty of money in this country. It’s just in the wrong hands,” he says.
The Curse of Mayoralty:
De Blasio is defying long odds here. Despite (or because of) New York’s prominence from the early days of the Republic to the present, no one has ever moved from the office of Mayor of New York to that of President of the United States.
John Lindsay developed a national reputation, and national ambitions, while Mayor of New York in the 1960s and into the ’70s. But that served as the capstone for his career, not a launch pad.
Other mayors of large cities have had similar experiences. Yes, Calvin Coolidge was a successful mayor of the much smaller municipality of Northampton, Massachusetts in 1910-11 before moving on to state and then national political office. But service as the mayor of a large city historically earns more enemies than friends, and is very likely to stymie rather than empower national ambitions.
The Thing to Know:
De Blasio is expected to have difficulty making much of a mark. Although another incumbent mayor, Pete Buttigieg, is having unexpected early success, Buttigieg is the mayor of South Bend, Indiana: more akin to Coolidge’s Northampton than to New York.