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It's Groundhog Day for Bill de Blasio in Iowa

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio delivers

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio delivers his State of the City address at Baruch College on Feb. 3, 2015, in New York City. Credit: Getty Images / Andrew Burton

Mayor Bill de Blasio has tried to pitch himself as the voice for a national progressive movement.

He founded the Progressive Agenda Committee, which planned a presidential candidate forum on income inequality that was to take place last month in Iowa. He positioned himself as a power broker, as a key decision-maker, as a leader for progressives across the country, and he even delayed making a presidential endorsement, waiting to hear who’d champion his causes.

But last fall, the ground started to shift beneath him.

At the end of October, without fanfare or much publicity, he endorsed Hillary Clinton, whose campaign for the U.S. Senate he managed 16 years ago. Two weeks after the endorsement, his committee canceled its Iowa event.

Meanwhile, Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has tried to claim the progressive crown, gained traction.

As the Iowa caucuses approached, de Blasio tried to return to a national stage.

His initial efforts to help the Clinton campaign were rebuffed, but this weekend he went to Iowa anyway as a volunteer. And so, the mayor of New York City, who has plenty to do back home, found himself walking the streets of Iowa, alone, or sometimes with his wife, with little fanfare or attention.

Some voters there didn’t even know who he was. Or care.

Now, after busily phoning into New York radio stations and making appearances on national TV from the Midwest, de Blasio is planning to leave Iowa early to get ahead of the heavy snow predicted there tonight.

Perhaps he’ll get a better reception if he shows up to Tuesday’s Groundhog Day ceremony in Staten Island, an event he was initially planning to skip.

If he does, hopefully he can avoid dropping Staten Island Chuck, as he did two years ago (actually, Staten Island Charlotte). Sometimes, perhaps, it’s better to avoid attention – and hide in the groundhog’s shadow.

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