With reports surfacing that the city’s second-highest elected official is mulling a run for governor next year, New York City’s chief executive was coy Tuesday about whether he would also throw his hat into the race.
Public Advocate Jumaane Williams — who’s expected to easily win re-election to his current job in November — is set to form an exploratory committee in the 2022 statewide Democratic primary for governor, according to New York magazine, setting the stage for a showdown with Governor Kathy Hochul, who ascended to the office just last month after disgraced former Governor Andrew Cuomo resigned.
Rumors have circulated that Mayor Bill de Blasio, who’s term-limited and leaving office on Dec. 31, might also be mulling a run for the state’s top office. When asked about both his political future and Williams’ bid, de Blasio didn’t deny that he wasn’t thinking about it.
During a press availability Sept. 28, de Blasio said, “I respect Jumaane Williams a lot. We have a good long history together, but we also honestly have areas we disagree.”
Though he didn’t specify if he is also running for governor, he said, “I’ve made very clear I intend to stay in public service. I want to serve the people of this city in this state. I want to continue working on issues that I care about deeply.”
The mayor added that there are a lot of things that need to be fixed in this city and state, seemingly things he could not fix as mayor.
Williams is a well-known progressive who began his career in City Council, and de Blasio doesn’t have a strong progressive following. He challenged Hochul in 2018 for lieutenant governor, but lost by seven points in the Democratic primary.
The public advocate told New York magazine that he’s not focused on who he’s running against right now, though he charged that Hochul was part of a political infrastructure that enabled Cuomo.
Since taking office on Aug. 24, Hochul has worked to distance herself from the disgraced ex-governor, while also working hand-in-hand with top progressive elected officials across the city.
Williams has come against de Blasio on one of this year’s major issues — defunding the police. It’s a buzzword that means a lot to many activists, and Williams is known as an activist, but displeases politicians who value their constituents who are part of the force.
They do agree on some aspects of the Rikers crisis, like removing some of the inmates from jail facilities on the island.
Williams applauded Hochul on the “Less is More” bill, which aims to get parole violators out of jails while they await trial. After his visit to Rikers on Sept. 27, de Blasio doubled down on his previous calls to shut it down. However, he hasn’t been able to achieve this since he was first elected mayor in 2014.
De Blasio turned reporters back to his topic of choice after deflecting on the governor question, saying that he’s focused on “defeating COVID once and for all,” and battling inquiries on whether vaccine mandates are legal and doing enough to fight the virus.
“We’re going to get these vaccine mandates to have the impact we need them to have, and turn the corner on COVID and jumpstart our recovery. That’s what I’m focused on,” the mayor said.
State Attorney General Letitia James has also been rumored as potentially mulling a run for governor next year, though she may also opt to seek a second term in office as the state’s top prosecutor.