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De Blasio Is Down, but Hardly Out

Jacob Kornbluh

Incumbent mayor not wildly popular, but faces little competition

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

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SOUTH POLL “It’s just difficult to beat incumbents.” De Blasio took his pitch to Orthodox Jewish voters, although he’s not losing sleep over the upcoming race, even as the poll numbers indicate a downward trend (Photo: AFP/ IMAGEBANK)

T he New York City mayoral election kicked into high gear last week as Mayor Bill de Blasio applied for public matching funds ahead of the September 12 primaries. The incumbent mayor is almost guaranteed a second term, but recent polls suggest that voters are not overwhelmingly satisfied with his job performance.

According to a recent Quinnipiac poll, only 50% of respondents approve of de Blasio’s job performance, and voters are split (46%–46%) on whether the mayor deserves reelection. A NY1/Baruch College City poll released at the end of last month showed de Blasio defeating his opponents by double digits.

“Leave out the one big question — the reelection matchup — and this is a pretty bad poll for Mayor Bill de Blasio,” Maurice Carroll, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, opined.

As much as the poll numbers indicate a downward trend, de Blasio is not going to lose sleep over this race. “That he is under 50 tells you how New Yorkers feel about him — they don’t like him,” explained Hank Sheinkopf, a Democratic campaign consultant. Nonetheless, “it’s just difficult to defeat incumbents. The system benefits the insiders, whether nationally or locally.”

In an attempt to resolve a crisis swirling around the general condition of the city’s subway system and fire up his liberal base, de Blasio proposed to tax the rich to help pay for the subway repairs and reduce the cost of MetroCards for low-income families. The tax on the wealthy, which requires the approval of the state legislature, would generate some $800 million a year for long-term transit improvement.

Another potential bloc of votes is the Orthodox Jewish community. In November 2013, de Blasio became the first Democrat to win the Jewish vote since Ed Koch in 1985.

Last Saturday night, the mayor took his pitch to Orthodox Jewish voters. “I’ve been blessed to have a close relationship now well over 15 years,” de Blasio said during an interview with longtime friend and donor Leon Goldenberg on his weekly Community Matters radio program. “I think I can give some great examples of improvements we’ve made to help the community. But when you think about big, big things happening in the city, our economy is strong, every community benefits, including the Jewish community.”

Hizzoner will likely face scrutiny over his record in a community that is more aligned with Republicans on policy and values. “Bill de Blasio has a poor record on issues of importance to the Orthodox Jewish community,” Michael Fragin, a GOP campaign consultant who recently served as Jewish liaison on Paul Massey’s mayoral bid, told Mishpacha. “He reneged on his deal regarding metzizah b’peh, he [initially] opposed Councilman David Greenfield’s plan to provide security for yeshivos, and he refused to offer expanded half-day pre-K that would work for five-year-olds in yeshivos.”

In the Saturday night interview, the mayor also touted his pro-Israel bona fides, reminding listeners of his 2015 solidarity trip to Israel during a wave of terrorism. “I’m a Democrat, I’m a progressive, and I am a strong supporter of Israel. I am intensely opposed to the BDS movement and any effort to undermine Israel and its economy,” he said.

De Blasio further promised to make the case against BDS in front of progressives. So far, he’s only spoken out against the BDS movement in front of Jewish audiences. City Hall did not immediately respond to an inquiry as to when and how he intends to publicly speak out or act against those who support boycotts against Israel. 

Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 672. Jacob Kornbluh is also the political reporter for www.JewishInsider.com.

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