Bill de Blasio announces run for Congress as New York Democrats grapple with new map

The new map is expected to be approved by a state judge Friday.

May 20, 2022, 12:46 PM

New York's political scene -- upended this week by a newly drawn congressional map -- got even more interesting Friday with an announcement from former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

"Today I'm declaring my candidacy for Congress in the 10th Congressional District of New York," de Blasio said during an appearance on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."

The new district will span from lower Manhattan to Brooklyn, including de Blasio's neighborhood of Park Slope, if the map is approved as expected by a state judge on Friday.

"The poll shows people are hurting," de Blasio told "Morning Joe" co-host Joe Scarborough. "They need help, they need help fast, and they need leaders who could actually get them help now and know how to do it."

De Blasio's run for a House seat comes after two terms as mayor and a failed presidential bid in 2020. He also considered a run for governor earlier this year but ultimately decided not to challenge sitting Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul. Instead, he said at the time would devote "every fiber" of himself to fight inequality in New York.

He tweeted Friday morning that "the way to save democracy is be part of it."

At least one other Democrat will be competing against de Blasio for the nomination. State Sen. Brad Hoylman told THE CITY this week he'll be campaigning in the new 10th District barring any more changes from the court.

But more are reportedly considering jumping into the race. Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou's team said this week she's been approached by community leaders to run in the new district, and that she's "seriously considering" it.

PHOTO: Former New York Mayor Bill de Blasio delivers remarks in Times Square, April 12, 2021, in New York.
Former New York Mayor Bill de Blasio delivers remarks in Times Square, April 12, 2021, in New York.
Richard Drew/AP, FILE

New York's current 10th Congressional District is represented by House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler. But thanks to the new map, Nadler is running in a new district against House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney.

The new map also pits Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, against first-term progressive Rep. Mondaire Jones.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called the situation "chaos" on Thursday, while Rep. Hakeem Jeffries said the map would "make Jim Crow blush" since it splintered several historically Black neighborhoods.

While the map is bad news overall for Democrats, de Blasio appears to be one beneficiary of the changes.

"If he didn't have that map, he had no shot," Hank Sheinkopf, a veteran New York political consultant, told ABC News.

De Blasio has lived in Park Slope for decades and served the area as a city councilor for three terms before becoming the city's public advocate in 2009. The progressive policies he pushed for as mayor and in his short-lived presidential run could be well-received in the liberal enclaves of lower Manhattan, brownstone Brooklyn and Borough Park, Sheinkopf said.

“He has a huge following there going back to the days when he represented them in the city council,” Sheinkopf added. “It’s a perfect set up for him.”

But de Blasio left office last year with low approval ratings following his rocky run as mayor. In one Siena poll conducted in the weeks before his term ended, just 25% of voters said they viewed him favorably compared to 56% who had an unfavorable opinion -- a net negative of 31 points.

The new districts were unveiled earlier this week by a court-appointed expert after the New York Court of Appeals in April charged the legislature of improperly gerrymandering the map they originally proposed.

New Yorkers also now have to wait until August to vote in the primary elections for Congress, rather than picking their party's nominees in June, because of the redistricting process.

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