Ex-Mayor Bill de Blasio and his wife, Chirlane McCray, are separating, the pair announced during a lengthy interview with The New York Times that was published Wednesday.
De Blasio, who occupied Gracie Mansion between 2014 and 2021, and McCray told the Paper of Record that after nearly 30 years of marriage they are splitting up and will start dating other people. The pair, however, said they won’t be getting a divorce and will continue to occupy the same Park Slope row house where they raised their two children, both of whom are now in their twenties.
The couple’s interracial status — de Blasio is white and McCray is Black — played a role in him winning the 2013 mayoral primary that brought him to City Hall, many political observers say.
During their interview with the Gray Lady, de Blasio and McCray said they decided to separate about two months ago after having a heart-to-heart conversation that revealed their marriage no longer resembled what it used to be.
“You can feel when things are off and you don’t want to live that way,” de Blasio told the Times.
McCray said she’s looking to have more “fun” with the new arrangement, seeking a relationship with someone who isn’t a public figure.
“I just want to have fun,” McCray said. “There’s a certain weight that goes with being with Mr. Mayor.”
They made clear that de Blasio’s eight years as mayor put a heavy strain on their marriage, given the intensive 24/7 schedule that comes with occupying the city’s top job.
“Everything was this overwhelming schedule, this sort of series of tasks,” de Blasio said. “And that kind of took away a little bit of our soul.”
De Blasio’s tenure as mayor was also marked by years of blistering press coverage, a failed long-shot presidential bid and a torrent of criticism over his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, which struck during his second to last year in office. The couple said that the pandemic, in particular, hindered their ability to plan their lives after the end of de Blasio’s mayoralty.
McCray, who ran a controversial mental health program within her husband’s administration known as Thrive NYC, said that his ill-fated 2020 presidential campaign also damaged their relationship.
“I thought it was a distraction,” McCray said. In response, De Blasio conceded his wife was right: “kind of true, point for Chirlane.”
The former mayor has caught a considerable amount of heat stemming from his failed White House run. He was recently ordered by the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board (COIB) to pay the city roughly $475,000 for sticking city taxpayers with the bill for his NYPD security detail’s travel expenses while campaigning across the country.
De Blasio also launched a separate failed bid for a newly-drawn Congressional district covering Brooklyn and Manhattan last year, which was ultimately won by Dan Goldman.
With de Blasio’s announcement, reporters and political observers have already taken to Twitter to joke about the possibility of running across his profile on popular dating apps like Hinge and Raya.
“Bill de Blasio on Hinge: ‘6’5” in case that matters,’” Kate Mooney, a writer, joked in reference to a line many use to describe their height on dating apps.
“Who is de Blasio asking for a Raya invite,” said Megan Wylie, deputy political director of the District Council of Carpenters, pointing to the invite-only dating.
The former mayor, however, told the Times that he is “not a believer” in online courtship.
But many reflected on the couple announcing their separation in a revealing and candid interview, saying that the pair showed “vulnerability.”
“NYC politics is an uneven mix of policy and gossip,” said Hunter Rabinowitz, president of the Brooklyn Young Democrats. “Yet, there is something beautiful about de Blasio and McCray’s interview and their vulnerability and openness.”