Opinion

Bill de Blasio's 'extremely personally irritating' run for Congress, explained

The sharpest opinions on the debate from around the web

Bill de Blasio just finished serving two terms as mayor of New York City, but hizzoner isn't ready to leave politics behind — on Friday, the 61-year-old Democrat revealed he's running for Congress in the newly-drawn 10th Congressional District, which includes parts of Brooklyn and lower Manhattan.

Immediately, de Blasio's decision to make his announcement on MSNBC's Morning Joe was met with side-eye by Politico New York's Sally Goldenberg. "I know he needs money to run this race and probably thinks this is the way to do it, and perhaps voters of the NY10 watch Morning Joe, but announcing this on national TV and not giving local media that actually covers NYC so much as a heads up is so *very* Bill de Blasio," Goldenberg tweeted.

This has to sting

Indeed, most of the reactions on Twitter were negative, with users like lawyer Tristan Snell cracking jokes at de Blasio's expense. "I almost want to run for Congress just so I can run against Bill de Blasio," he wrote. "And I have almost as many followers." (It's true: Snell has 202,900 followers to de Blasio's 221,300.) Writer Ted Berg was direct with his take, tweeting, "I find Bill de Blasio's entire existence troubling because he makes me worry that no one likes me and I too am completely oblivious."

Writing for Hell Gate, Christopher Robbins explained that "it's not that de Blasio's two terms in office were an unmitigated disaster, or that he wouldn't make a decent member of Congress … What makes this news grimly satisfying (to a journalist who covered him for eight years anyway) is that de Blasio clearly hasn't tweaked his message or his (extremely personally irritating) style."

Searching for his base

De Blasio has spent the last several years battling low approval ratings — last fall, a Siena College poll found that in a hypothetical Democratic gubernatorial primary, more respondents were willing to pick former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who resigned over sexual harassment accusations, over de Blasio. The 10th Congressional District Democratic primary is set for Aug. 23, and Chris Coffey, a Democratic strategist, said he can't really envision residents showing up in huge numbers for de Blasio. "I'm having a little trouble figuring out who de Blasio's voter is," Coffey told the New York Daily News. "I can look at other candidates and kind of put together their voters. For de Blasio, he'll have certainly the highest name ID in the district — which matters, but it's going to be a very low turnout in August."

Barat Ellman is a prime example of someone who, on paper, might be a de Blasio voter; she is a progressive rabbi and longtime resident of Park Slope, Brooklyn. However, Ellman told The New York Times her opinion of de Blasio changed — and not for the better — after seeing how he tackled criminal justice and policing reforms. "There would have to be some pretty miserable alternatives for me to go with him," she said.

A voice of support

There is at least one person who supports de Blasio's decision to throw his hat in the ring. Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, a New York assemblymember and leader of the Brooklyn Democratic Party, said in a statement de Blasio is "the most qualified progressive candidate who I believe can win this diverse seat." After she made this statement, a spokesperson for Bichotte clarified this was not an endorsement of de Blasio.

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