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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

The endless march of Bill de Blasio

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks at

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks at a press conference in Brooklyn, on June 16, 2015. Photo Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

One operative succinctly described Bill de Blasio during New York City's 2013 mayoral campaign as a "movement politician."

Two years later, the mayor continues his role in progressive parades from within the Democratic Party. Guided by his inner strategist, de Blasio shows a knack for finding his way to the banners at the front of the procession with the determination, though not the stealth, of a Rosie Ruiz.

By blasting Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in public words that can't be retracted -- vengeful and transactional -- de Blasio this week inserted himself at the front of a mini-movement of sorts: Democratic players whose complaints about the second-term governor are already well known.

These include other statewide officeholders, Democrats in both legislative houses, public-service employee unions, teachers and other Democratic constituencies.

De Blasio has marched before against other Democrats he condemned as too compromised. He rose from the rear to defeat once-favorite Christine Quinn two summers ago for the Democratic nomination by branding her as Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg's docile "yes" person while City Council speaker.

For leverage, De Blasio allied himself with micro-movements -- resistance to hospital closings, opposition to horse carriages, support for paid sick leave and, eventually, the broader protest against random stop-and-frisk practices.

More recently, de Blasio attracted attention by visiting Democratic presidential primary states to discuss progressive goals. Income inequality is an overarching theme for Democratic activists. With Hillary Clinton's status as this movement's champion still in doubt, the mayor has waited before endorsing the former senator, whose campaign he ran in 2000.

Last year de Blasio linked up with the Cuomo camp to get his friends in the Democrat-wagging Working Families Party to cross-endorse the governor for re-election. It was his first year as mayor, and he had not yet deemed it time to join the Dems-fed-up-with-Cuomo movement. Together they called for a new march for the Democrats to wrest the Senate majority from the Republicans.

That was then.

Cuomo and de Blasio play to overlapping but distinct electorates. The GOP is but a political shadow in the city, but holds the upper house in Albany, as Cuomo has noted in response. And although the state rules on crucial city issues, the city's charter arguably gives de Blasio more unilateral power to run the five boroughs than the state Constitution gives Cuomo over the Capitol in Albany, where results require compromise.

Jaded observers may find it less than convincing to hear de Blasio, after getting rolled in Albany, muster the indignance of a tourist who just had his wallet lifted.

Mark Green lost to de Blasio in the 2009 public advocate primary. He also lost to Cuomo in the 2006 attorney general primary, and so can be considered impartial.

"De Blasio is way more of a politician than a progressive -- though he's both," Green says. One tactical advantage for the mayor going public may be that "Cuomo has to think twice the next time he wants to do something self-evidently mean-spirited [by way of] payback."

A feud "hurts both in different ways," he adds, "and because ultimately they are both political operatives, get ready for a pretend beer or Chobani summit where they make nice.

"But it'll never go back to normal."

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