De Blasio has traveled to early primary states including Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, and formed a federal political action committee (Pac) called Fairness Pac to bankroll his travels.
His message on those travels has centered on economic inequality. “There is plenty of money in this nation. It’s just in the wrong hands,” he said in an oft-repeated line.
De Blasio has sought for years to position himself as a national progressive leader, after racking up accomplishments in his first few years in office including universal pre-kindergarten, paid sick days and living wage legislation and a city ID card available to undocumented immigrants.
But frustrations have built over New York’s crumbling public housing system, where hundreds of children got lead poisoning after officials lied about doing inspections, and stubbornly high homelessness.
De Blasio has also been the target of multiple ethics inquiries, where no criminal charges were brought, but prosecutors found he made inquiries on behalf of political donors seeking favors.
“I’m glad I’ve unified the people of New York City,” he quipped when asked about the lack of enthusiasm in the polls.
De Blasio’s Pac has been polling voters in Iowa. He said last week in an appearance on WNYC radio that he has not yet hit the polling or donation thresholds to qualify for the Democratic primary debates.
The previous New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg, decided not to run for president after months of flirting with a bid as a Democrat, opting instead to pour his considerable wealth into the resistance to Donald Trump. Though, since then at least one news report has said Bloomberg was reconsidering his position.