New Yorkers to Bill de Blasio: Meh

Protesters outside the ABC studio where Bill de Blasio announced his run for president on Thursday morning. Photo: Alice Chambers

“Anybody need any more whistles? Tommy! More whistles!”

John Puglissi, 1st vice president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, the biggest police union in New York City, cried orders as he strode around a group of about 50 police protesters standing in the rain on Time Square Thursday morning at 7 a.m.

On Thursday’s broadcast of ABC’s Good Morning America, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his run for the 2020 presidential race at the network’s Time Square studio. They were there to make their disapproval known.

“When he comes over here, “No friend of labor!” Start screaming it out!” said Puglissi, shouting to be heard over the shrill whistle blasts.

The union is in fraught negotiations with the city over pay and benefits. Last year, it filed a request for binding arbitration with the New York State Public Employment Relations Board to solve the impasse. Union members held signs and foam fingers with the word “liar” printed across them.

De Blasio, who is the 23rd candidate to put his name forward for the Democratic nomination,  began his campaign with a video, published just before his Good Morning America appearance, In the video, titled, “Working People First,”  he says, “I will not rest until this government serves working people.” De Blasio is positioning himself as an adversary to President Donald Trump. “I know how to take him on, I’ve been watching him for decades,” he said on Good Morning America, and added that, unlike Trump, de Blasio is on the side of working people.

But, contends Puglissi, “he’s no friend of labor and he’s a phony progressive. All he cares about is his future ambitions for higher office.”

Protesters outside the ABC studio where Bill de Blasio announced his run for president on Thursday morning. Photo: Alice Chambers

Union members aren’t the only New Yorkers that aren’t thrilled with the mayor’s announcement. According to the latest polling data from Quinnipiac, released in April this year while a de Blasio candidacy was still speculative, 76 percent of New Yorkers think it’s a bad idea.

“Mayor Bill de Blasio’s flirtation with a 2020 White House bid is prompting a rare moment of unity among New Yorkers. Three-quarters of them say, ‘Mr. Mayor: Don’t do it,'” said Mary Snow, polling analyst for the Quinnipiac University Poll. 

When asked about this on Good Morning America, de Blasio responded “I got elected with 73 percent of the vote originally, re-elected with 67 percent of the vote. I think you’d agree that the poll that actually matters is the election.”

De Blasio didn’t only draw criticism from unions. Hidden amongst the police protesters were about 12 others from the East Brooklyn Congregation and Metro Industrial Areas Foundation. They were there to hold de Blasio accountable over a commitment he made last year to provide funding for public housing for the elderly. In June 2018, de Blasio and Speaker of the City Council Corey Johnson promised $500 million in this year’s capital budget. Following questions from Comptroller Scott Stringer, however, the housing officials admitted that the money was not included in the budget.

He can’t administer New York City,” said protester Brother John Robertson, “why would he [be able to] administer the country.”

De Blasio is expected to head to Iowa Thursday afternoon, where he will hold his first campaign event on Friday morning.