With an impeachment trial on the docket and a deeply contentious presidential race in the offing, it’s easy to predict that the biggest political stories of 2020 will have datelines in Washington, Concord, Des Moines, Las Vegas and Charleston.
The presidential race will touch New York City and state as much as anywhere else. A former mayor is running for the White House, multiple candidates will likely swing through Manhattan multiple times to raise money and there’s a state presidential primary in late April that could prove important to deciding who gets the Democratic nomination.
As discussed on the New Year’s Day edition of WBAI’s Max & Murphy Show, however, there are big storylines in play in the Empire State and the Big Apple that have nothing to do with the quest for 270 electoral votes.
Mayor de Blasio, for instance, enters the seventh year of his mayoralty with relatively little political capital and not much of a clear agenda.
“I think the presidential run probably damaged him more than I expected,” said Jeff Mays, who covers City Hall for the New York Times. “But, you know, I still think he has two years, and depending on what he does with the upcoming State of the City — I keep talking to his people and they keep saying he does have some more plans. And there are lots of things out there that he can deal with: school segregation, property tax reform. These are issues that he would get major points for if he were willing to step forward.”
However, Mays said de Blasio is operating with very little time to waste: “I think he’d have to do it immediately. Like now.”
Politico NY’s Dana Rubenstein believes it might be too late for the mayor to make significant moves. “It seems like his lame-duckhood has begun prematurely and will only get worse, I think. He seems really disempowered and it’s hard to imagine him accruing any additional power over the next two years,” she said, adding later: “Even if he makes some major proposal, I’m not convinced he has the political capital to get anything done.”
Not that de Blasio is the only local political story. Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s handling of his members’ agenda—and his response to the mayor’s proposals—will be important, both on the merits and its strategic bearing on the 2021 mayoral race. How the other elected officials seeking the mayoralty (Comptroller Scott Stringer, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz , Jr. and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams) play their cards will also be worth watching. There’s also the question of whether a more prominent female name will join Diana Morales and Loree Sutton in that race.
Meanwhile, on the state level, Albany Times-Union state editor Brendan Lyons thinks the upcoming budget season will show where the balance of power among the governor, State Senate and Assembly rests and how those players plan to deal with looming deficits and a long list of progressive demands. “I think it’s going to be a very tenuous, challenging budget negotiation this year,” Lyons said, “because all of these branches are going to now have to figure out, how can we do this without cutting programs?”