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OpinionColumnistsMark Chiusano

Four years makes a difference for Bill de Blasio

Mayor Bill de Blasio is a very different

Mayor Bill de Blasio is a very different candidate in his race for re-election than he was four years ago. Photo Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

There’s a savvy doorman in the 35th Street building where amNewYork has its offices.

He was told that Mayor Bill de Blasio would be stopping by for a talk with the paper’s editorial board at 2:15 p.m. Thursday, but that hizzoner would actually be arriving around 1:40 p.m.

“De Blasio,” the man said slowly. Then, he earnestly asked: “Early?”

The mayor was not known for punctuality early in his term. It got to vaguely embarrassing levels, and fairly, or unfairly, the reputation stuck. But he seems to have kicked the bad habit lately, and on Thursday arrived right on time.

What a difference four years makes.

Just keep governing, just keep governing

Stricter scheduling is not the only way we’re seeing a different candidate this time around.

Looking at video from a 2013 visit to amNewYork by then-mayoral candidate de Blasio, he struck a brash tone, eager to defend his big ideas. They were big and progressive and different, particularly in comparison with more than a decade of Michael Bloomberg’s technocracy. He wanted universal pre-kindergarten, for example, and had a plan to build or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing. He was going to pay for the pre-k with a tax on the city’s wealthy, and he was ready to go toe-to-toe with Albany to do it.

This time around, he’s using just some of that fiery rhetoric: He wants to launch 3-k, or school for 3-year-olds, which is “a revolutionary concept,” he says. But many of the points he’s making for this year’s campaign are edits from 2013: deepening gains or moving things a little farther, as with pre-k to 3-k.

“I believe we’re fundamentally on the right track,” de Blasio said Thursday. He’s making the case that he needs four more years to continue making progress. Conspicuously missing at least so far is the kind of moonshot that rallied people to de Blasio when he was public advocate, helping him capture the backing of progressives and soar past better-known candidates.

Where you sit is where you stand

Maybe a little executive experience makes you more practical. He has more to take care of now than when he was just a candidate, some of them symbolized by the Puerto Rico flag pin he has worn in the wake of Hurricane Maria’s devastating September path across the island. He has mobilized New York’s resources for Puerto Rico as he has for other crises. Along with that responsibility, he’s thrived using the mayoral podium to oppose the actions President Donald Trump, a better bogeyman than Bloomberg ever was.

Another reason de Blasio can afford to be a little more cautious than even a typical incumbent: In a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday, he leads his main challenger, Republican Assemb. Nicole Malliotakis, 61 percent to 17 percent. This tracks with public polling this election season. He already won the Democratic primary with upward of 70 percent of the vote. Heading into November, there’s no reason to rock the boat: Just show up on time.


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