N.Y. Dems are blah on Blaz
ODD MAN OUT AT CONFAB OF PARTY POOBAHS
The bar of the El San Juan Hotel was packed with politicians last week — all of them New Yorkers buzzing about the big winners of the week's election, and about those who would run in the next one.
Public Advocate Letitia James, who will become the first woman and first black attorney general, was the toast of the town at the annual Somos Conference.
Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Westchester County), who will become majority leader in January, seemed to get a standing ovation every time she entered a room.
In every corner, a candidate for public advocate met with a labor leader, gaming out whose support they would need for a path to victory in a winter election to fill James' seat.
And one name was noticeably absent from those talks: Mayor de Blasio.
"In all those conversations, the centers of power are being discussed and no one talks about what role the mayor is going to play in shaping the conversation in Albany, or around the public advocate's race, or around the future speaker's race, or really about anything," one Democratic operative with ties to the mayor said.
The conference comes as de Blasio, less than a year into his second term, has unveiled few if any new major policy proposals.
He did not stump for candidates who were trying to flip state Senate seats in the general election, nor was he particularly active during the primary — though he did endorse three of the challengers to Independent Democratic Conference members, one of them, Robert Jackson, just days before the race.
But de Blasio's role was significantly smaller than it was in 2014 — an effort that ended in continued GOP Senate and legal investigations. And it comes as he instead focuses on elections elsewhere in the country, stumping for candidates in Florida and Wisconsin as he tries to burnish a national profile.
"When you talk to people here, the conversation about the mayor is about his absence from the office and his disinterest in the job," the operative said.
His absence from one race became conspicuous at a Thursday night party, when officials packed into the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico for a welcome party. De Blasio heaped praise on James — whom he did not endorse in the primary. His wife, Chirlane McCray, backed her opponent, Zephyr Teachout.
James didn't mention the mayor when she joined the stage.
“I want to thank all of you for your support, but I particularly want to give a shoutout to the Speaker Carl Heastie who was with me from day one, and of course, (Assemblyman) Marcos Crespo who brought the Bronx in like no one can ever believe,” she said.
It seemed the mayor would not hold much sway in another election — the madcap race to become public advocate, an office seen as a springboard to succeeding the mayor. Lobbyists and operatives and officials gabbed about what the front-runners might need to do to win.
Nobody was talking about who the sitting Democratic mayor would back.
“I'm not sure that there are many people running for public advocate that want the mayor's endorsement, and that tells you something,” a prominent city Democrat told the Daily News.
But de Blasio's spokesman Eric Phillips argued the mayor was in Puerto Rico fresh off of several electoral wins that bolstered his political standing.
“The mayor won all his Charter revision proposals and contributed significantly to key wins by state senate Democrats and the Working Families Party,” said Phillips, who knocked the off-the-record critics.
“Bill de Blasio's never been stronger politically and the fact that these critics are hiding their names is evidence of that,” Phillips said.
Mayor de Blasio seemed to be an afterthought at meeting of key Democrats in Puerto Rico.