Elections

Who is Democratic presidential candidate Bill de Blasio?

De Blasio: The money is in the wrong hands

Democratic presidential candidate New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that there is plenty of money in the country but it's "in the wrong hands" during the first primary debate for the 2020 elections in downtown Miami on June 26, 2019.
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Democratic presidential candidate New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that there is plenty of money in the country but it's "in the wrong hands" during the first primary debate for the 2020 elections in downtown Miami on June 26, 2019.

In a YouTube video announcing his presidential campaign, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio focused his aim at fellow New Yorker, President Donald Trump.

“Don’t back down in the face of a bully. Confront him, take him on,” de Blasio said in the video. “As president, I will take on the wealthy, I will take on the big corporations. I will not rest until this government serves working people. Donald Trump must be stopped. I’ve beaten him before, and I will do it again.”

The May 16 announcement made him one of the last candidates to enter the race.

The two-term mayor wants to bring his promises to Washington, where he wants to bring to life his “Working People First” slogan, which includes pre-K for all, paid sick leave and $15 hourly minimum wage.

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De Blasio was born in New York City, where he was raised until his family moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1966. He returned to his birthplace when he attended New York University, where he majored in metropolitan studies. He later received a master’s degree from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

The mayor has a long history in New York City politics and on progressive issues.

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He first began his work in public service as a junior staffer for David Dinkins, New York City’s first African-American mayor. It was there that he met his wife, editor and writer Chirlane McCray. They have two children, whom they raised in Brooklyn.

He went on to serve as the regional director of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and then managed Hillary Clinton’s campaign for Senate. From 2002 to 2010 he served on the New York City Council, and then went on to become the city’s public advocate.

As mayor, de Blasio’s record includes establishing universal pre-kindergarten, expanding sick leave and reducing the practice of stop-and-frisk by the New York City Police Department.

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He became mayor on what he dubbed a “tale of two cities” platform but has since disappointed many of the Democrats who voted him into office. While he vowed to make life better for struggling New Yorkers, income inequality has widened during his time in office.

The New York Post announced his presidential run with a huge front-page photo of people pointing and laughing, and an April Quinnipiac poll showed New York City voters gave de Blasio an anemic 42 percent job approval rating.

At the time of the poll, analyst for Quinnipiac University Mary Snow said de Blasio’s flirtation with a 2020 White House bid prompted “a rare moment of unity among New Yorkers.”

“Three-quarters of them say, ‘Mr. Mayor: Don’t do it,’ ” she said.

About Bill de Blasio

Current or most recent position: De Blasio became New York City’s 109th mayor in 2014.

Other elected offices: In 2002, de Blasio joined the New York City Council. From 2010 to 2013, he served as public advocate for the city.

Occupation: De Blasio has been in the public sphere since he worked for David Dinkins’ mayoral campaign in 1989. He was then a regional director at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, a school board member in Brooklyn and then managed Hillary Clinton’s campaign for U.S. Senate in 2000.

Education: De Blasio is a graduate of New York University and Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

Age: 58

Residence: New York City.

Family: Wife Chirlane McCray, children: Chiara and Dante

Campaign website: billdeblasio.com

Donors: Because de Blasio did not file for candidacy until mid-May, campaign finance data is not yet available. The next filing deadline is in mid-July.

Fun fact: Born Warren Wilhelm Jr., de Blasio changed his name in 1983 to Warren de Blasio Wilhelm to embrace his mother’s Italian heritage.

On the issues: While de Blasio has no issue-related information on his website, The New York Times reports that he cares about income inequality — “There’s plenty of money in the world. Plenty of money in this city,” he said in his state of the city speech in January. “It’s just in the wrong hands!” — and education (his signature policy achievement as mayor has been his implementation of a universal pre-kindergarten program). He cares about immigration, as he pushed to make New York City a so-called sanctuary city even before President Donald Trump took office, and supported the creation of a city ID card that immigrants can use. In May he announced a plan to spend $100 million on medical treatment for immigrants who may not be able to purchase insurance.

On criminal justice issues, he takes pride in lowering crime in New York City, even after scaling back the city’s stop-and-frisk program. When it comes to housing, he is proud of making affordable housing a focus of his role as mayor.

Sources of biographical information: Bill de Blasio campaign, City of New York, The New York Times, The New York Daily News

Follow more of our reporting on 2020 Presidential Election: Democratic Candidate Profiles

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