Thursday morning I woke up to the news that my mayor, Bill de Blasio, is running for president.
If you don't live in New York City, you probably don't really know Bill yet. So, as a reporter who has covered some of the mayor's notable, um, moments, I wanted to share some facts about him, like that, if elected, he would be both the tallest president ever and the only one to ever have been described as "a wallflower" in Vanity Fair. He loves cars, boats, horses, and one time someone saw him ride the subway. He considers the Cross Bronx Expressway his personal "nemesis," he hates Gov. Andrew Cuomo, but he's still down for a good time dressing up as a pirate at the Coney Island Mermaid Fair.
In the spirit of New Yorkers feeling inordinately guilty about the politicians our city has subjected on America, this is the rest of what you need to know about Hizzoner now that he's running for president.
1. He might have murdered a celebrity groundhog.
The NYC tabloid spin: Zoo in coverup after groundhog dropped by de Blasio dies
If there is one thing you need to know about Bill de Blasio, it is that he has a long, sordid history of (maybe) murdering rodents.
The most famous instance took place in 2014 when the newly-elected mayor made an appearance at the Staten Island Zoo for ye olde Groundhog Day prognostication. For the photo opp, de Blasio was to pose with that year's meteorologist, Staten Island Chuck (played by a groundhog named "Charlotte," who was deemed "a female imposter" by the New York Post). But when the mayor was handed the groundhog, he dropped the wiggly, oversized rodent right out of his giant gloved hands.
A week later, Staten Island Chuckette was dead. The zoo attempted to cover up the fact that the groundhog dropped by the six-and-a-half-foot-tall mayor had died from her "acute internal injuries," but the Post broke the story and the truth got out. To this day, many New Yorkers still dream of justice for Staten Island Chuck.
2. New Yorkers haven't trusted him since he ate pizza with a fork.
The NYC tabloid spin: Forkgate for Bill de Blasio in Staten Island! Mayor uses cutlery to eat his pizza
As many a foolish New York politician has learned the hard way, citizens of Gotham are quick to judge character based on a public servant's respect for the city's cuisine. It should go without saying, then, that the mayor of New York City needs to know his way around a dang slice of pizza.
Not Blaz. In an incident that once again took place on Staten Island (a borough de Blasio seemingly ought to just stay away from), the mayor was spotted eating a slice of pizza "like a tourist," The New York Daily News blasted, using the worst insult possible for a city native.
Following the outcry over #forkgate, de Blasio tried to save face. "In my ancestral homeland [Italy], it's more typical to eat with a fork and knife," he said.
3. He once had a tense standoff with the governor over the fate of a deer.
The NYC tabloid spin: Beloved Harlem deer died for the sins of Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio
De Blasio and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) have a long history of, well, not quiiiiite getting along. Tensions came to a head in 2016 when the pair got into a proxy war over a deer.
Lefty the deer became stranded in Harlem after swimming across the East River, and the city decided that it needed to put the poor animal down. Cuomo heard about the city's plans, and released a statement claiming "there are alternatives to euthanasia." The mayor's office then fired back, noting that "relocated deer have very low long-term survival rates" and it was most merciful to put Lefty down.
Cuomo jumped back in, saying that the state would personally rescue Lefty from the clutches of de Blasio. At last, de Blasio's press secretary announced that the state would try to transport the deer upstate.
Lefty died from the stress en route.
4. His press secretary used to get into really dumb Twitter fights.
The NYC tabloid spin: De Blasio aide battles Twitter trolls posting nasty messages about the mayor
Speaking of de Blasio's longtime (and now former) press secretary, Eric Phillips was once the mayor's most loyal attack dog on the internet. But you know what they say about picking your battles? Phillips might have missed that memo.
Take another fight between de Blasio and Cuomo, this time over "shark attacks" off Fire Island last summer. Cuomo launched an investigation after two children were nibbled by a sea creature that the National Park Service deemed was "consistent with a large fish." But "[m]eanwhile, in the actually shark infested waters of Twitter, de Blasio's and Cuomo's press flacks are doing their normal routine in which they try to own each other online for an imaginary audience of taxpayers who appreciate sick burns referencing minor news stories from four years ago," Gothamist wrote.
As we speak, some innocent oceanic animal scientist is being cajoled into serving on the Long Island Shark Attack Commission. All swimming by sharks suspended until we know what the hell is going on. https://t.co/KN6Fcbd1lU
— Eric Phillips (@EricFPhillips) July 19, 2018
Phillips has also been spotted attacking various trolls on Twitter, including random critics of de Blasio with no more than 10 followers.
5. He is an admitted ex-stoner.
The NYC tabloid spin: Bill de Blasio says he smoked marijuana only a 'few times' in his life
Former NYPD detective Bo Dietl appeared on a Fox News segment in 2015 to allege that de Blasio and his wife smoked pot in the backyard of Gracie Mansion. When asked about the claim during a press conference, de Blasio denied the charge by noting "I haven't smoked marijuana since I was at NYU."
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) January 8, 2015
Gothamist responded to the hullabaloo with a list of the "10 most stoned young de Blasio pics," which I highly recommend browsing.
6. He refuses to root, root, root for the home team.
If there is possibly a greater sin in Big Apple than eating pizza with a knife and fork (shudder), it's being a Red Sox fan.
Now, New York is a city full of transplants, and if Blaz had come south from Boston at the age of 16, then sure, he would be allowed to root for the Red Sox (although his qualifications for mayor of the city would still be up for debate). But de Blasio — who did temporarily live in Massachusetts — was born in Manhattan. While hating the Yankees in and of itself isn't a crime, the guy could at least have been a Mets fan.
To make matters worse, de Blasio's love of New York's biggest rival is, he says, "quasi-religious."
You are the Mayor of New York City , can’t you even get that right
— OrangemanEX1137 (@CJK1137) March 2, 2019
7. He really loves animals!!!
The NYC tabloid spin: De Blasio 'concerned' about new rule against feeding squirrels, birds in city parks
Despite his propensity for killing groundhogs, de Blasio really is an animal lover at heart. In addition to allocating $27 million for a Brooklyn animal shelter in 2018, the mayor famously ran on the promise of protecting horses by trying to ban Central Park's famous carriages. "They are not humane, they are not appropriate for the year 2014," he said. "It's over. So, just watch us do it." (The horse-drawn carriages never did end up getting banned, but de Blasio won his push to keep the carriages inside the park earlier this year).
De Blasio additionally expressed "concern" about a proposed ban on feeding the city's squirrels and birds this spring. That said, there is one animal de Blasio really, really hates...
8. He aims to make New York 'the worst place in the world to be a rat.'
The NYC tabloid spin: De Blasio's rat-killing demonstration is a complete disaster
Despising rodents puts de Blasio in line with most New Yorkers, but the mayor has gone as far as to declare he wants New York to be "the worst place in the world to be a rat." As Splinter News writes: "In these dark times, it's important to find happiness where you can: In the laughter of a child, the melody of a favorite song, or — if you're New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio — the joy that comes from chemically murdering an entire family of rats."
9. He drives 11 miles almost every weekday to go to one particular gym in Brooklyn.
The NYC tabloid spin: This is de Blasio's excuse for driving 12 miles to the gym
New Yorkers are quick to tell you about how incredibly awful the subway has gotten, although that isn't entirely Bill de Blasio's fault. Nevertheless, the mayor of New York City often goes weeks at a time without taking a ride on the city's dilapidated train system. That doesn't stop his near daily trips to the Park Slope YMCA, though, which is more than an 11-mile drive from his house.
De Blasio is a Green New Deal supporter, but has shown no awareness of the hypocrisy of driving more than 20-miles round trip in an SUV every day to work out when there are hundreds of other gyms in New York. When asked about why he still goes to one particular Y, he told DNAInfo: "I don't want to be someone who's seeing the world through the prism of Gracie Mansion. I want to be someone who's seeing the world through the prism of the neighborhood I come from in Brooklyn, and remembers where I came from and all the people who have been part of life here."
De Blasio even included his chauffeured ride through New York in his presidential announcement video on Thursday (albeit sans gym clothes):
(Twitter | @BilldeBlasio)
10. His love of naps is constantly getting him into trouble.
The NYC tabloid spin: The Post gives perennially late de Blasio an alarm clock
De Blasio is famously always late. How late? Well, he was once late to a reception at Gracie Mansion, and he lives there.
It turns out that there's a reason for his tardiness: The man really, really loves naps. Missing one ahead of a memorial service for the victims of a plane crash, he blamed his tardiness on "a very rough night" that had him "wake up sluggish."
De Blasio's mid-morning snoozes are reportedly an open secret at City Hall, with the mayor's shut-eye getting so famous (and irritating) that the New York Post once bought him an alarm clock in the hopes that it would get him to show up on time to, uh, anything.
11. He can't dance.
The NYC tabloid spin: Amazingly none, but here's a video.
— Courtney Gross (@courtneycgross) March 10, 2019
12. He doesn't think any of these tabloid headlines are funny.
Love 'em or hate 'em, New York's tabloids are as much a flavor of the city as pizza and bagels. De Blasio, though, has on multiple occasions lashed out at the local media. "I think the tabloid culture — and I've said it very publicly — I think has been harmful to New York City," he once told WNYC, adding: "No, I will not shed a tear if [the New York Post] is no longer here."
It's not just the Post, though. In now-public emails, de Blasio once "lambasted the 'pitiful' news media and hungered for cutbacks at the Daily News," Gothamist writes. De Blasio additionally fumed that The New York Times had turned down publishing his op-ed. When a BuzzFeed News journalist pointed out that all of de Blasio's media bashing makes him sound like another high-profile politician from New York, the mayor clarified: "I felt this a long time ago. Donald Trump doesn't actually mean it."
When de Blasio announced he was running for mayor on Thursday, though, the Post got to have a bit of its own fun:
Today's cover: Bill de Blasio officially launches 2020 presidential campaign pic.twitter.com/g973kWfGJ3
— New York Post (@nypost) May 16, 2019
13. New Yorkers really, really, really don't want him to run for president.
The tabloid headline: All the reasons de Blasio's 2020 presidential candidacy is a complete farce
New Yorkers were polled earlier this year on which New York political figure they thought would make the best president. Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg led the poll with 28 percent. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo had 17 percent. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who can't even be president because she's still too young, got 7 percent.
And in dead last was Bill de Blasio, with 5 percent.
New Yorkers began a long and ultimately fruitless campaign to not get our mayor to run for president almost as soon as he started talking about how much he loves Ohio. In one desperate, yet admittedly clever, attempt to stop him, some activists put up signs on de Blasio's preferred YMCA which read "by entering these premises you agree not to run for president of the United States in 2020." It didn't work.
William T. Cunningham, the communications director for Bloomberg, summed up the general mood in New York to the Times: "In this case, the mayor's contemplating running and everybody's like, 'Please don't.' You would think the New Yorkers who don't really like him would say, 'Please do,' but even they say, 'Please don't.' It's like, 'We don’t need them thinking even worse about New York than they already do.'"