There’s just no way. Is there?
“She’s talking about it,” a former city Democratic elected official admitted to Newsmax over the weekend, saying the idea has not been dismissed by the former first lady’s inner circle.
He and other sources say Clinton is being pushed to run by Democrats dissatisfied over [Bill] de Blasio’s mayoralty.
“If she ran, she’d win,” another source with deep ties to the Democratic and media establishment said…
Veteran New York Democratic consultant Hank Sheinkopf told Newsmax that Clinton “would be a terrific candidate for mayor.”
“She is wildly popular among New Yorkers — so much so that were she to file, de Blasio would have to file his retirement papers on the same day.”
I can sort of imagine a Hillary “consolation prize” candidacy if the current mayor was retiring or a Republican, but Bill de Blasio is a Democrat and is running again next year. His job approval lately isn’t as bad as it’s been, either. A WSJ poll in October found 40 percent of New Yorkers rated him “excellent” or “good” versus 22 percent who rated him “poor,” with another 34 percent grading him “fair.” Not great, but not doomed. At least not yet.
Hillary would have universal name recognition, all the Wall Street money she could want (she could self-fund her candidacy, frankly), and maybe a sympathy push from some Democratic voters. Here’s the risk, though: She’s a terrible politician. There’s no reason at this point to believe she’s a sure thing to beat anyone. Right now her legacy is badly damaged by having lost a winnable election to Trump, but she’ll always have the fact that she won the popular vote and was the first woman nominee in American history. The stench of “loser” is thick but there are mitigating factors. If she challenges de Blasio in her own heavily Democratic backyard and loses, the stench will be suffocating. That’ll make three enormous upset losses for her in 10 years, first to Obama in 2008, then last year to Trump, then to de Blasio. And unlike the first two, the last will be read as a total and final repudiation by the Democratic Party. It was one thing for her to lose a national primary eight years ago to a phenomenon like Obama, but losing to de Blasio would be unspinnable. It’d be like Nixon losing the California gubernatorial race in 1962, except that there won’t be a second act for Hillary. This would be it, sending her into retirement with a kick in the pants from New Yorkers. It’d be the ultimate humiliation.
Wouldn’t a name-brand like Clinton swamp de Blasio, though? I don’t know. The wrinkle is that de Blasio has styled himself as a loud-and-proud progressive in the Bernie Sanders mold. He did eventually endorse Hillary in the primary last year but he held out a conspicuously long time to make his reservations about her plain, even though he, er, managed her 2000 Senate campaign. Young liberals in New York City might view a de Blasio/Clinton mayoral primary as a proxy rematch of the Sanders/Clinton national primary and an opportunity to send a message about the future of the wider party by sending her down to defeat. And it’s no sure thing that the rest of the party would feel sympathy for Hillary rather than scorn. Some would blame her, justifiably, for running a feeble campaign in the Rust Belt that handed the presidency to Trump; others would be offended that she’s treating the mayor’s office as some sort of fallback position, having failed in November to land the job she really wanted. The sheer sense of entitlement involved in the Clintons swooping into NYC to unseat the Democratic mayor on the theory that Hillary Clinton simply must have a job in politics would irritate people. Maybe she’d overcome all of that and win easily, but there would be a backlash. The question is whether it’d be strong enough to stop her.
Rationally there’s no reason to do this and risk the embarrassment of defeat, but Hillary’s political ambition has always seemed insatiable. She’s been running for the world’s hardest job for 25 years; there’s a certain logic to her trying to scratch the itch by running now for the second-hardest. Assuming, that is, that the leaks about her interest in the mayoral job aren’t just Hillary loyalists settling a score with de Blasio by whispering about her wanting to challenge him. After he declined to endorse her for so long in her own primary, the least she can do to pay him back is make him sweat a little as he prepares for his own.
Exit question: President Trump and Mayor Clinton would be total buds, wouldn’t they? At least until she rezoned Trump Tower, I mean.