You are here
Home > Financial > De Blasio’s New Side Hustle: Trolling Bloomberg

De Blasio’s New Side Hustle: Trolling Bloomberg

Two weeks after endorsing Bernie Sanders for president, Mayor Bill de Blasio has wasted no time and few gibes going to work as his surrogate.

He urged Pete Buttigieg on Twitter to “not be so smug when you just got your ass kicked” in the Nevada caucuses. He told Joseph R. Biden Jr. to “wake up!” to families that want better health care.

But most of the mayor’s ire has been directed toward his predecessor in City Hall, Michael R. Bloomberg.

He said Mr. Bloomberg’s policies as mayor were racist. He asserted that he has been “cleaning up Michael Bloomberg’s mess for six years.”

And any suggestion to the contrary from Mr. Bloomberg? “Self-centered delusion,” the mayor wrote on Twitter.

With his own presidential campaign an unqualified bust, Mr. de Blasio appears to have found his voice and renewed vigor as an attack dog for Mr. Sanders, the Democratic front-runner.

The most visceral component of that surrogacy has been Mr. de Blasio’s criticism of Mr. Bloomberg, enabling him to return to the theme of his successful 2013 mayoral campaign in which he cast himself as the anti-Bloomberg.

On Wednesday night, Mr. de Blasio appeared on Sean Hannity’s show on Fox News for a second time — a forum where few Democrats venture.

The interview began with Mr. Hannity playing a clip of Mr. Bloomberg talking about his stop-and-frisk policy of throwing young men against walls.

“Thank you for playing that for your millions of viewers, because now more people are going to see who Mike Bloomberg really is,” Mr. de Blasio said.

The mayor’s attacks have angered Mr. Bloomberg’s allies, who have mostly avoided criticizing Mr. de Blasio even during his fleeting run for president last year. That informal policy has clearly ended.

“Few public officials anywhere are as innovative and clever as Bill de Blasio when it comes to repeated efforts at money laundering,” Stu Loeser, a spokesman for Mr. Bloomberg, posted on Twitter, referring to Mr. de Blasio’s questionable fund-raising practices.

Mr. Loeser said it was his decision, not Mr. Bloomberg’s, to speak out against Mr. de Blasio.

“If he wants to present himself as an opinion maker to the American people, we’re going to have to remind people about his full legacy in office,” Mr. Loeser said in a phone interview, pointing to a de Blasio donor who pleaded guilty to using campaign contributions as bribes.

Mr. de Blasio’s attacks are a desperate attempt to gain relevance, Mr. Loeser said.

“It’s no secret that Bill de Blasio loves national politics and loves it more than being mayor,” he said.

Mr. de Blasio’s advocacy for Mr. Sanders has spurred speculation that the mayor may be strategically laying the groundwork for a spot in a future Sanders administration. The two are longtime allies; Mr. Sanders swore Mr. de Blasio in at his second mayoral inauguration.

Karen Hinton, a former press secretary for Mr. de Blasio, said his affection for Mr. Sanders was real, but suggested that he might also want a cabinet post like secretary of housing and urban development.

“It’s where his heart has been all along,” she said of the Sanders endorsement, “but that doesn’t mean he isn’t also interested in working in the administration.”

The last time Mr. de Blasio visited Mr. Hannity’s show was in August when the mayor was trying to generate attention for his failing presidential campaign. They sparred for 41 minutes over various topics, from immigration and gun control to abortion and meatless Mondays the city’s schools.

This time, Mr. Hannity, an ally of Mr. Trump’s, found common ground with Mr. de Blasio over their disdain for Mr. Bloomberg.

Mr. Bloomberg has no “bedside manner” and “no common touch, no connection to people,” Mr. de Blasio said, before playfully inviting Mr. Hannity to Mr. Sanders’s inauguration.

Jon Paul Lupo, an adviser to Mr. de Blasio, said the mayor had consistently made the same arguments against Mr. Bloomberg.

“Mayor de Blasio is bringing the receipts, and you have to defend your record,” Mr. Lupo said.

Mr. Bloomberg, who served as mayor for 12 years, is actually more popular among New Yorkers. His approval rating is 59 percent among New York City residents, according to a Siena College poll this month. Mr. de Blasio, who is facing lame duck status with less than two years left in office, had his approval rating fall below 35 percent last year.

Joseph Borelli, a Republican councilman from Staten Island, said he enjoyed watching Mr. de Blasio and Mr. Bloomberg duke it out.

“It’s fun as a Republican, but it’s also fun as a student of New York City politics,” Mr. Borelli said. He noted that many of the reporters covering the presidential race and the White House had once covered Mr. Bloomberg or Mr. de Blasio in New York, and “know where all the bodies are buried.”

“You don’t get that with Mayor Pete,” he said, chuckling, “or God knows who covers Burlington, Vermont.”