New York, NY, USA – May 16, 2019: Mayor of New York Bill de Blasio and his wife Chirlane McCray arrive at the Statue Of Liberty Museum Opening Celebration on Liberty Island, NY USA (Shutterstock)
By Anna Sanders and Shant Shahrigian, NY Daily News
Mayor de Blasio is pushing his wife as the next borough president of Brooklyn, insiders say — and he’s even dangling support for incumbent beep Eric Adams’ mayoral run in exchange for Adams’ endorsement of First Lady Chirlane McCray. De Blasio’s push comes as he’s facing the end of his administration in 2021 and dim prospects for landing another elected office himself. If McCray becomes borough president, that would let the de Blasio family stay in the public spotlight — and provide a needed paycheck.
“It keeps him somewhat relevant or somewhat involved in politics,” an insider told the Daily News. “It doesn’t even look like they’re trying to hide it too much.” At a meeting around Christmas, de Blasio and Adams discussed the cross-endorsements, sources said. “McCray is not going for the progressive base,” an insider said. “She’s going after the moderate, mostly black, central Brooklyn vote” — which comprises Adams’ own base.
Spokespersons for de Blasio and for Adams’ mayoral campaign both denied the meeting took place and said there’s no deal between them. The pol who’s expected to become the next chair of the Brooklyn Democratic Party, Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte, is a de Blasio supporter. She was one of the few electeds to endorse Hizzoner in his failed presidential run and is poised to use the Brooklyn machine to get McCray elected.
De Blasio’s also been meeting with Orthodox Jewish leaders in the borough to shore up support for his wife, sources said. “It’s been Brooklyn politics forever,” an insider said of the backroom wheeling and dealing. “Nothing has changed, and the same thing is happening again.”
McCray has discussed her intention to run for BP with her inner circle of advisers, according to a source familiar with the matter. She’s also spoken with BerlinRosen, a public relations firm that worked on de Blasio’s 2013 and 2017 mayoral campaigns. Staffers gave McCray a cake with icing that read “Chirlane 2021” at a recent birthday party for her at Gracie Mansion.
“She’s always wanted to be an elected,” said the source, who noted she throws a monkey wrench into plans by Council members including Robert Cornegy (D-Bed-Stuyvesant/Crown Heights) who are running for borough president. “If Chirlane runs, it hurts Cornegy by dividing the borough’s black voters since he’s seen as the front-runner,” a source said.
Councilman Rafael Espinal (D-Brownsville/East New York) abruptly dropped out of the BP race on Thursday, though he denied that rumors of McCray’s run had anything to do with the move. “It was more of a personal decision,” he said. “The honest truth is I began campaigning, I wasn’t having fun.”
The BP gig pays $179,200 per year, an enticing paycheck for a couple that’s spent its entire careers in politics. An ex-de Blasio staffer said the Brooklyn BP seat is a logical choice for Hizzoner and McCray.
“They want to keep the public sector thing going for a while. There’s just no natural fit for him in the private sector,” the ex-staffer said. “They love Brooklyn,” that person added, noting de Blasio’s ties to Park Slope — he used to rep the neighborhood on the City Council, has a house there and still treks to the Park Slope YMCA to work out. “He gets to be the Bill to the Hillary that never was. It makes a ton of sense,” the ex-staffer said.