2020 Presidential Profiles

Published — May 16, 2019

9 things to know about Bill de Blasio

Mayor of nation’s largest city enters ultra-crowded Democratic presidential field

Introduction

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced today that he is running for president.

“Don’t back down in the face of a bully. Confront him, take him on,” de Blasio said in a campaign kickoff 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.”

De Blasio has served on New York City’s City Council and then as the city public advocate. Before that, he served as campaign manager for Hillary Clinton’s 2000 U.S. Senate campaign.

The mayor is now among more than 20 candidates — fellow New York state resident Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand included — seeking to win the Democratic Party’s nomination and challenge President Donald Trump.

Here’s more on de Blasio’s political and personal finances:

  • De Blasio’s own federal level campaign contributions have been modest. During the 2011-2012 election cycle, de Blasio contributed a total of $1,000 to Obama’s campaign and the Obama Victory Fund 2012, according to Federal Election Commission data. Chirlane McCray, his wife, gave $700. De Blasio gave then-Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards’ campaign $295 during the in the 2003-2004 election cycle.
  • De Blasio wasn’t officially “Bill de Blasio” until January 2002. He had two other names prior to that. Born Warren Wilhelm Jr., he changed his name for the the first time in 1983 — to Warren de Blasio-Wilhelm — to embrace his mother’s Italian heritage, he wrote in his petition to the court. By 1990, he was using the name Bill de Blasio, which became official when a judge approved his application for a second name change in January 2002, not too long after he became an official member of New York City Council representing the 39th District.
  • In his first mayoral race, in 2013, de Blasio received nearly $10.6 million in contributions. The average contribution to his campaign was $862, according to the New York City Campaign Finance Board. More than half of the money came from New York City. The New York University and Columbia University graduate saw an overall drop in contributions to his 2017 campaign, where he received more than $6.5 million in contributions. The average contribution was $555.  
  • De Blasio has been a vocal advocate against the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision, which gave corporations, political nonprofits and trade associations more freedom to spend money on politics. As New York City’s public advocate, de Blasio co-wrote an essay with Los Angeles Controller Wendy Greuel about how corporations were funneling their money through nonprofits and trade associations. But de Blasio has been less critical of labor unions, which may also benefit from the Citizens United decision. One union particularly generous to de Blasio during his last run was the Service Employees International Union. Branches of the organization, such as 1199 SEIU New York State Political Action Fund and the SEIU Local 1957 Committee of Interns and Residents, together gave $14,850 to de Blasio for his 2017 run.  
  • He might decry the role of big money in politics, but that hasn’t stopped de Blasio from collecting financial support from one of the biggest names in political spending. Liberal megadonor George Soros and his sons, Robert and Alexander, gave $12,400 to de Blasio’s most recent mayoral campaign, according to New York City campaign finance records. The entire Soros clan — including daughter Andrea, sons Alexander, Gregory and Jonathan, plus Robert’s then-wife — were even more generous to de Blasio during his first run, when they collectively pitched in $29,875 to help him secure the mayoral seat.
  • During the 2017-2018 election cycle, de Blasio’s political action committee, Fairness PAC, raised more than $470,000 in its efforts to elect Democrats to the New York state Senate and U.S. Congress. The PAC gave a little more than $16,000 to federal-level candidates that included Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Lucy McBath, who won a House seat in Georgia.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during the U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting in Washington on Jan. 24, 2019. (AP/Jose Luis Magana)
  • De Blasio’s annual salary as mayor went from $225,000 in 2017 to $258,750 in 2018, thanks to legislation he signed in 2016. He decided to forego the increase for the remainder of his first term. According to his 2017 personal financial disclosure, he reported also collecting rental income totaling between $63,000 and $204,000 from four properties.

Sources: Public Advocate of the City of New York, Federal Election Commission, New York Daily News, City of New York, New York City Campaign Finance Board, The Nation, New York City Conflicts of Interest Board, The Center for Responsive Politics, Politico, and  The New York Times.    

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