Sunday, November 23, 2014

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NY1 Political Director Bob Hardt's daily look Inside City Hall.

NY1 ItCH: A Progressive Pitch from the Man in Park Slope

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It must have been a relief for Mayor de Blasio, leaving those headaches back in New York City for the day and going on a road trip to Washington D.C. to talk national politics with Politico's Mike Allen.

Continuing to embrace some in the national media while keeping local reporters at lanky arm's length, de Blasio weighed in on the presidential race, telling prospective Democrats to bring his "Tale of Two Cities" approach to the campaign trail.

"The Democrat should speak to income inequality. The Democrat should be willing to challenge the status quo, should be willing to challenge wealthy and powerful interests and should marry that with a grassroots organizing strategy that epitomizes the message,'' de Blasio said.

The mayor banged the drum louder in an op-ed column for the Huffington Post earlier this month in which he urged national Democrats to embrace their roots, clucking his tongue at candidates who "clip their progressive wings in deference to a conventional wisdom that says bold ideas aren't politically practical."

Singling out failed Democratic Senate campaigns in North Carolina, Kentucky, and Arkansas, de Blasio wrote: "I'm not blaming the individual candidates here. The strategies they employed are largely the making of Washington insiders who force-feed message points on candidates under threat of being written off by their national party infrastructure."

While Obamacare might sell in Park Slope and to the rest of New York City, it's a different story in the backwoods of Kentucky, a state that hasn't elected a Democrat to the U.S. Senate since 1992. Talking up the president would likely have turned some Senate losses into even bigger Republican landslides. Just ask Mary Landrieu, a canny Louisiana Democrat who is on the verge of being ousted in a Senate runoff next month, largely because of the state's antipathy toward Obama.

The Howard Dean approach to politics might be fun in a Democratic primary race but it often leaves you on the sidelines after the caucuses are over. De Blasio's old bosses – Bill and Hillary Clinton -- embraced voters who felt that they had been abandoned by the Democratic party. After all, most Americans – including the wealthy and the poor – consider themselves members of the middle class even if they aren't.

Meanwhile, the mayor's push to bring the Democratic National Convention to Brooklyn continues. It will give the mayor a chance to continue this Democratic debate – but let's hope he doesn't quit his day job.

Programming note: I won't be quitting my day job but I'll be taking a break until Tuesday. Until then, excelsior!


Bob Hardt

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