Will she or won’t she? She almost certainly won’t — but Hillary Clinton can’t bring herself to say no to a run for mayor in New York City. Politico’s Edward-Isaac Dovere reports that even some of her allies are starting to get annoyed with the coy act:
But people who have talked with her — both former staffers and notable members of the Clinton orbit — say there’s mostly been a lot of coping with her presidential defeat, rather than planning for another run. She is almost certain not to run for mayor, they say, but there’s a legitimate interest in finding some way to stay involved, aware that there’s no place for her in national politics anymore and that many Democrats don’t want to hear from her after losing to Donald Trump.
Among her allies, there’s a despondency about how aimless she seems, the photo of her sitting by herself at a restaurant alone checking her email, the thought of her sitting up on the riser for Donald Trump’s inauguration next week, with cameras cutting to her constantly for grim reaction shots.
There’s also a growing sense of the absurdity of the discussion — and frustration even among some confidants that she and her team are letting the rumor sit out there, noticeably not shooting it down, letting it linger.
“Everybody in politics knows why they are doing it. It’s very high school,” said Karen Hinton, a former Bill Clinton administration aide who was de Blasio’s press secretary at City Hall until last summer and believes this is just score-settling from Clinton’s orbit. “It’s obvious she is not going to run, so why aren’t people just saying that?”
Isn’t it obvious? The Clintons enjoy the attention — and need it for business purposes, too. The Clinton Foundation needs links to power to survive, and right now the Clintons have none. It’s not clear that being mayor of New York City would be enough to keep up their business model, but at the moment it’s all that Hillary has as an option. People talk about it as the second-most powerful executive post in the US, but that’s only true in the context of media access. In the context of actual authority, it’s only the second-most powerful executive post in New York, where the governor outranks mayors just like everywhere else. The mayor’s ability to deliver on policy doesn’t extend much farther than the Five Boroughs, as Michael Bloomberg can testify. That’s the influence that matters for the purposes of the foundation and its foreign courtiers.
One other option would be to run for a Senate seat, but she’d have to push Kirsten Gillibrand out of the seat Hillary resigned to accept appointment as Secretary of State for Barack Obama. Gillibrand is up for re-election in 2018, although she might be interested in running for the presidency in 2020, when she’ll be 54 years old. It seems almost impossible that she wouldn’t want to stay in the Senate for that purpose, though, and Democrats would hardly be thankful if a 71-year-old Hillary kneecapped a potential White House contender ahead of the next cycle.
The other option would be to run for governor in New York, an executive position with more authority and perhaps enough influence to keep Clinton Foundation courtiers in line. Cuomo will have finished his second term by then — assuming he doesn’t get the boot before then from the corruption investigations surrounding his administration. New York Democrats might welcome a change, but Hillary’s baggage is worse than Cuomo’s — and they have other politicians on their way up with more value. Why would Democrats risk a competitive race on a politician who keeps losing winnable contests?
With these bleak prospects, don’t expect the Clintons to come to reality. They’ll keep the speculation going as long as they can just to remain relevant, rather than admit that their time has passed and they’ve got nowhere else to go. Democrats will have to hand-deliver that reality to Chappaqua.