“Hillary for Mayor” signs are hitting New York, in what some of her supporters hope will launch Hillary Clinton back into 2020 presidential campaign, and perhaps others see as the best bet to get rid of the mayor.
The former secretary of state will be 73 by November 2020, but President Donald Trump will be 74. So no big deal there.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration is probably at least as shaky as that of Trump’s. He should by all accounts be beatable, particularly by a national party figure. He’s also been under state and federal investigation.
The federal probe is looking into whether donors to a nonprofit connected to the administration, got special treatment in the granting of special contracts and 50 percent of New Yorkers think he did something wrong, while 53 percent think his aides did something wrong, according to a Marist poll.
He’s also facing a state investigation into whether he and his aides broke state campaign finance laws to help Democrats get elected to the state senate. A plurality of 46 percent say the mayor did something either illegal or unethical, while a majority of 52 percent believe the mayor’s aides did something illegal or unethical.
Currently, more than half a dozen legitimate Democrats have entered, or are considering entering, the primary to challenge de Blasio. This demonstrates that he isn’t popular. Still, if Clinton is not polled, the mayor easily beats all his opponents—getting 40 percent of the vote—enough to avoid a runoff. The nearest opponents are City Comptroller Scott Stringer and former Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who trail badly at 9 percent each. Six other candidates score even lower. He also trounces any potential Republican opponent.
So many candidates is likely the problem. There is no way to beat an incumbent without consolidating anti-incumbent support. Also, at this juncture, de Blasio has overwhelmingly more name recognition than anyone else running.
Clinton would definitely clear the field of the other candidates and be a towering figure anti-de Blasio forces could rally around. She also would thrash him in name recognition. She assuredly could beat the mayor in a Democratic primary.
That doesn’t mean she would.
A Quinnipiac poll in January showed Clinton beats de Blasio 49 percent to 30 percent. If Clinton entered the race, there is some likelihood de Blasio would bow out. However, a more recent Rasmussen poll in finds that only 23 percent of New Yorkers actually want to see her run for mayor.
She easily trounced Trump in his hometown in the 2016 race, so she can get votes.
An August primary between two the mayor and Clinton would be an awesome national political story in a comparatively humdrum election year.
It’s not clear Hillary Clinton is the right person. Of all people, she can’t exactly go after de Blasio over ethics and attack him for being under a federal investigation. She assuredly can’t criticize anyone for an affiliation with a shady nonprofit.
Being New York mayor is tantamount to being a governor of nearly any other state in terms of a national political profile and it’s hard to argue Clinton isn’t qualified for the job. But this might also come across to voters in the city as just a brazen attempt to set up a rematch with Trump.
That’s how California voters saw Richard Nixon, when he ran for governor in 1962. If Clinton ran—and lost—a mayor’s race after winning the national popular vote in a presidential election, it would be an astounding fall.
And she could lose, which she likely knows, and almost assuredly won’t take that risk. So Americans can feel assured that the long national nightmare of the Clintons is probably behind us. Well, probably. The fact that she hasn’t answered suggests she’s leaving her options open.
Fred Lucas is a columnist for Political Storm and the White House correspondent for The Daily Signal. He is the author of Tainted by Suspicion: The Secret Deals and Electoral Chaos of Disputed Presidential Elections (Stairway Press, 2016).