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NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio Drops Out of White House Race

September 20, 2019, 1:02 PM UTC

Amid floundering poll numbers that never gained traction, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced early Friday that he is dropping out of the Democratic race for the White House.

The 109th mayor of the biggest city in the country made the announcement on multiple fronts—from his Twitter feed, on television’s “Morning Joe” and through a statement published by NBC News, to name a few.

“It’s true: I’m ending my candidacy for president,” de Blasio, 58, tweeted just before 8 a.m. E.T. “But our fight on behalf of working people is far from over.”

On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” the mayor said, “I feel like I’ve contributed all I can to this presidential election and it’s clearly not my time so I’m going to end my presidential campaign, continue my work as mayor of New York City and I’m going to continue speaking up for working people.”

In the statement published by NBC News, de Blasio wrote, “This campaign has been a profound experience for me. I saw America in full—not as it appears on Twitter and cable news, where we’re constantly shown a country hamstrung by our differences and unable to tackle the problems we face.”

He continued, “We have more in common than we realize—and more and more of us across the country are overcoming our divisions and standing up for working people.”

In recent days facing floundering poll numbers, de Blasio said he’d decide on dropping out when he learned whether he’d qualify for the October 15 Democratic debate at Otterbein University in Ohio. 

Candidates have until October 1 to reach the qualifying thresholds of 2% in the polls, 130,000 unique donors, and 400 donors in every state, Democratic National Committee spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said.

At the time he jumped into the race in mid May, De Blasio was probably most known nationally for taking on President Trump and his stance on immigration. But editorials, New Yorkers on social media, and some of his aides privately opposed a run.

During his four-month campaign, troubles brewed on the homefront, perhaps most notably a grand jury’s decision not to indict the police officer involved in the July 2014 chokehold death of Eric Garner, a man police suspected of selling untaxed cigarettes. Garner’s family and supporters bristled at that decision, but the city’s powerful police union took issue with the city’s subsequent decision last month to fire former Officer Daniel Pantaleo.

De Blasio just never found his niche in the crowded Democratic race, political observers told Fortune

“He’s got multiple problems,” Baruch College political scientist and author Doug Muzzio said. “One is the political environment because there are too many candidates who still are in lanes.”

De Blasio couldn’t go in the moderate lane because Democratic frontrunner and former VIce President Joe Biden has that sewn up and Bernie Sanders, Democratic senator from Vermont, and Elizabeth Warren, Democratic senator from Massachusetts, are the prominent liberals in the race, Muzzio added.

The other major issue was that the mayor ran in spite of polls that showed a majority of New Yorkers were against this.

“The mayor has an exalted opinion of himself,” Muzzio said. “He is the proverbial legend in his own mind and with that comes a certain amount of arrogance and hubris and his style in New York just hasn’t worked.”

In his first term as mayor, de Blasio saw successes with measures such as pre-kindergarten for all and paid family leave, but his second term has been bumpy, Muzzio said, with issues from his chronic lateness to the police union troubles bubbling up. “In a sense, he was always a dead candidate,” he added.

On Twitter, reaction from New Yorkers to de Blasio’s announcement echoed that sentiment. “How about doing your actual job!” one wrote. 

“The argument for his entry into the race to begin with was always unclear because there were certainly many liberals already in this race and his standing within the Democratic Party itself, among Democratic voters was the worst of any of the candidates who ran,” Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, told Fortune.

“He walked into this race with a net negative favorability rating,” Murray continued. “People were not hardcore voters of bill de Blasio like (fellow New Yorker and Democratic candidate Andrew) Yang, who started with a small base but a vociferously supportive base. Put all that together and you can say there really wasn’t a strong rationale about why he should enter this crowded race.”

Some candidates run for higher office simply to get the message out about a particular issue, but in de Blasio’s case, there isn’t any one issue, such as health insurance reform, that hadn’t already been claimed by a higher-polling candidate, Murray said.

Still, no one knows what might happen in 2024.

“I’m not sure that he’s left anybody hungering for another de Blasio run but you never know,” Murray said. “The landscape could be favorable for somebody like him in four years or eight years.”

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