New York City's mayoral races always take place in odd-numbered years, which means that "off-year" developments are always overshadowed by presidential elections, but next year's contest is already quietly getting underway. The central question is just what sort of challenge incumbent Mayor Bill de Blasio will face in the Democratic primary. De Blasio won office in 2013 riding a wave of progressive hopes and dreams, but his tenure has been marred by continual stumbles that have disappointed allies on the left and angered critics on the right. He's also engaged in a never-ending feud with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has always seemed to get the better of the mayor.
De Blasio's latest blunder involves his efforts to help Democrats take back the state Senate in 2014, allegedly by using large donations to local party committees that were then transferred to candidates in an effort to evade contribution limits. His political operation is now under investigation, and it appears that Cuomo himself had a hand in bringing this inquiry about. Making matters worse, de Blasio's poll numbers are at record lows.
But despite all this, as a report this month in the Wall Street Journal explained, de Blasio won't necessarily be easy to beat, thanks to his strong support from organized labor and from black voters. (You may recall his famous campaign ad three years ago featuring his biracial son, Dante.) One of de Blasio's most prominent potential intra-party challengers is Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, who is a supporter of the charter school movement, which de Blasio has opposed. But Jeffries now claims that he was always "very unlikely to run for mayor" and adds that "if anything, the chances have decreased in recent weeks."
Others, though, may be more interested. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. has been accepting contributions at the citywide (rather than the lower borough-wide) limit and recently held a fundraiser with Cuomo. Meanwhile, says the Journal, City Comptroller Scott Stringer has been privately suggesting he might run, though he's apparently also said he won't make any announcement until after the presidential election. DNAinfo runs through a number of other Democratic names as well, ranging from the plausible (wealthy real estate developer Don Peebles) to the amusing (Jimmy McMillan, the "Rent Is Too Damn High" guy).
And while Republicans dominated New York's mayoralty for 20 years (starting with Rudy Giuliani in 1993, then giving way to Michael Bloomberg, who later became an independent), the GOP probably doesn't have much hope unless they nominate someone with a lot of money and the Democratic candidate winds up badly damaged. But at least one office-holder is thinking about trying: Eric Ulrich, one of just three Republicans on the 51-member city council, has formed an exploratory committee.