The NYC Race Involves More Than Weiner

Bill de Blasio, who has surged in the mayoral polls recently, has a new ad:

Katrina Vanden Huevel sees national implications for the NYC mayoral race:

In the post-collapse, post-Occupy, post-Obama world, Democrats are headed into a fierce battle over the direction of the party. Obama forged his new majority largely on anti-war, socially liberal causes — aided by Republican reaction in contrast. But the Democratic Party’s consensus around social issues and diversity has masked a growing divide on economic issues between the Wall Street wing of the party and a populist wing that is beginning to stir. The mayor’s race in New York City is an early entry in this debate about the future of the party and the country.

Ed Kilgore adds:

I’d guess that before the day is out it’s going to occur to some news-starved Gotham-centric scribbler to do a piece contrasting de Blasio and Cory Booker as the twin poles of debate in this upcoming Struggle for the Soul of the Democratic Party. Or maybe it won’t be written until such time as de Blasio actually wins. Or maybe another New York figure named Hillary Clinton will manage to put off the Struggle for the Soul once again. It’s hard to say right now. But at some point internal differences, real and symbolic, sharp and focused or vague yet pervasive, will boil over into public. After all, conservatives can’t have all the factional fun.

George Packer praises de Blasio for his focus on NYC’s inequality. David Sirota adds that de Blasio “is not just running on a gauzy rhetorical criticism of inequality, he is running on explicit proposals to use the power of government to combat that inequality.” Yglesias, on the other hand, argues that the mayor’s office has few tools to fight inequality:

Economic inequality is a serious issue and municipal governance is a serious matter, but the fact is that the two have relatively little to do with each other.

All New York City mayoral elections attract disproportionate media attention because so much of the national media is based there. That’s something those of us who live in the rest of the country have learned to deal with. But this disproportionate attention tends not to be paired with any specific focus on what the mayor actually does—which is to say manage city agencies and local regulations within the rather narrow confines of existing state and federal law.

Curbing the most egregious abuses of Wall Street, in other words, isn’t part of the mayor’s job. Even curbing in the most trivial abuses of Wall Street isn’t part of the mayor’s job. The city can’t even really set its own tax policy. Even to the extent that it can tax bank impresarios, it can’t stop them from commuting from New Jersey. The fundamental problems of financial regulation, in other words, need national solutions.

Edward Wyckoff Williams explains how de Blasio’s family informs his politics:

After a recent campaign advert featuring his son, Dante — who sports a big, beautifully bold Afro — African-American and Hispanic voters began to take note. For many New Yorkers who had not been paying much attention to the race — or were distracted by Anthony Weiner’s unfortunate revelations — de Blasio’s fierce criticism of the New York City Police Department’s stop-and-frisk policy suddenly became abundantly clear: This is a man who worries whether his son will be suspected and harassed by police for no other reason than the color of his skin.

Ben Florsheim also focuses on de Blasio’s multi-racial family:

De Blasio lacks the “built-in voter base” enjoyed by his chief rivals for the Democratic nomination, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (openly gay, female) and former Comptroller Bill Thompson (black). De Blasio’s family buffers this disadvantage. It does so both by appealing to the groups from which Quinn and Thompson hail, but also by offering the de Blasio family as a metaphor for the city’s eclectic racial and social makeup, and giving voters a chance to say that character and lifestyle can outweigh background when it comes to advancing the progressive cause.

But Harry Enten expects Thompson, rather than de Blasio, to make it to a runoff with Quinn:

It’s no accident that in every single Democratic primary since 1989, a minority candidate has placed no lower than second. There’s a reason why the last time a white non-Jewish male won a Democratic mayoral primary was in 1969, when current runoff rules were not in effect. Ethnic politics in New York has always been the name of the game in New York City.

Alec MacGillis thinks “the Quinn campaign does not seem to have fully grasped the lessons of Clinton’s 2008 run”:

One of which was that liberal-leaning Democratic primary voters do not seem to take all that well to women candidates who tuck away their liberal instincts to run an uber-cautious campaign on a platform that amounts to “it’s my turn,” offering themselves as carrying on the legacy of a larger-than-life man who preceded them.

And Dylan Matthews believes that “the biggest repercussion of this year’s race” could be on education policy:

The biggest differences between the candidates appear to be on crime and education, whereas housing and taxes see big points of convergence. And even on crime, there’s a large degree of unity among Democrats; it’s Republicans that are willing to defend stop and frisk. But on education, there’s a real divide between those of a Broader, Bolder temperament like de Blasio and Thompson, who play well with teachers’ unions and emphasize increased services rather than increased accountability, and those of a reformist bent like Quinn or Lhota who want to continue Bloomberg’s approach.