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Mayor Bill de Blasio criticized by potential 2017 challengers

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, (D-Brooklyn), left, at a January

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, (D-Brooklyn), left, at a January news conference, said Tuesday he will seek re-election but did not rule out a challenge against Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2017. Credit: New York Daily News / Corey Sipkin

Two potential challengers to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s re-election bid took to the steps of City Hall Tuesday to criticize the administration just as the mayor was inside, about to answer questions on at least five investigations of his fundraising.

Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz Jr. and Rep Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn) demanded $80 million more in the budget for summer jobs for every city youth who wants one. The de Blasio administration has said the city is already funding a record number of youth jobs.

Both Díaz Jr. and Jeffries said they intend to seek re-election to their current jobs, but neither would rule out running against de Blasio in 2017.

“We’ll see what happens after November,” Jeffries said.

Regarding a possible challenge to de Blasio, Díaz Jr. said, “I don’t know what the future may hold. . . . It’s always flattering when people want to mention you for higher office or to serve in a greater capacity.”

De Blasio, speaking in City Hall’s Blue Room, where he had just signed several pieces of legislation, said he welcomed anyone’s challenge.

“If folks want to run for this great office, you know, bring it on,” the mayor said.

De Blasio defended a decision by a nonprofit he set up to defy subpoenas from the state’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics looking into the nonprofit. As he has in the past, de Blasio repeatedly hinted that his political enemies are behind the scrutiny, but he would not name names.

He wouldn’t say whether he personally solicited money from someone who had a matter pending before the city, which a city ethics board said he couldn’t do.

Nor would de Blasio say how exactly the manufacturer of rat-resistant trash bags, who had struggled to get a meeting and business with the city, got both after making a $100,000 donation to the mayor’s nonprofit, the Campaign for One New York, which is in the process of shutting down. The manufacturer’s meeting was with the mayor himself.

“So, again, any matter under investigation, I’m not going to go into play-by-play on,” de Blasio said. “Bottom line is, everything was done appropriately, and the people I came to know through the work I do.”

Jeffries said the mayor was entitled to a presumption of innocence on those and the other probes and added: “there certainly is a lot of smoke emanating from City Hall these days, but it’s not clear to anyone that there’s fire.”

Jeffries said “it’s still premature” to say whether de Blasio deserves a second term.

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