Mayor Bill de Blasio bowed out of the race for president Friday after failing to generate enthusiasm for his bid, even from voters in New York City.
The Democrat did not meet the fundraising and polling thresholds to qualify for the debate earlier this month or the one set for next month. And a Siena College poll released earlier this week showed him registering 0% support among city voters as a presidential candidate.
De Blasio campaigned on a vision of implementing nationally the progressive policies he had championed locally, but he was dogged from the start by tensions at home, and the primary had higher-profile far-left candidates in Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
“I feel like I’ve contributed all I can to this primary election, and it’s clearly not my time,” de Blasio said Friday in an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
“I have no doubt from my experience that the Democratic Party is moving in a progressive direction on the ground,” he added in an interview with WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show.” “I have no doubt that if we have a progressive economic message, that that’s what will decide the election.”
De Blasio, elected mayor in 2013, returns to City Hall with more than two years left in his second and final term. He had struggled during his White House bid to balance his aspirations on the national stage with his responsibilities as the city's chief executive.
In mid-July, for example, he was stumping in Iowa when parts of Manhattan were plunged into darkness during a power outage. Other city leaders, including City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, helped fill the leadership void.
Also in July, at the second debate in Detroit, members of the NYPD’s rank-and-file union protested de Blasio outside the venue for being “no friend of labor” while demonstrators inside heckled him with shouts of “Fire Pantaleo,” a reference to the former officer involved in the death of Eric Garner.
On Friday, President Donald Trump — a fellow New Yorker — greeted de Blasio’s exit with sarcasm.
“Oh no, really big political news, perhaps the biggest story in years! Part time Mayor of New York City, @BilldeBlasio, who was polling at a solid ZERO but had tremendous room for growth, has shocking dropped out of the Presidential race. NYC is devastated, he’s coming home!” the president tweeted.
Among de Blasio’s proposals as a presidential candidate was a “robot tax” to help workers hurt by automation.
He said Friday that the remainder of his time at City Hall would be focused on expanding early-childhood education and pushing for guaranteed health care and paid time off.
“You’re going to be seeing a lot more over the next two years, three months and 11 days,” he told reporters.
De Blasio wouldn't say who he may endorse in the primary, but commended Warren and Sanders and said of former Vice President Joe Biden’s front-runner status: “It’s too early to do any coronations.”
He said his campaign’s failure to catch fire was due in large part to his late, mid-May entry into the race. He lamented: “I wish I had more time. I wish I had more resources.”
Rebecca Katz, a former senior aide to de Blasio, suggested that the mayor improve his communication going forward.
“The real problem that he’s had as mayor or as a presidential candidate is that his personality and little things have overshadowed his message and the work that he’s done,” she said.
Veteran Democratic strategist George Arzt said: "If he applies himself to resolve some of the issues at hand, including the homelessness problem, the housing crisis and others, he could help burnish his credentials and his legacy as mayor of New York."