KEY POINTS

  • New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo haven’t seen eye to eye in a long time
  • They've disagreed over homelessness, public housing, funding mass transit, etc
  • Most black New Yorkers voted for de Blasio in 2013 and 2017 but some have become disillusioned

A bad marriage often begins with a great honeymoon and that might have been the case in 2014 when New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio took office. He had a joint press conference with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo soon after where Cuomo said, "We use the word 'friend' in politics often and sometimes casually. But the new mayor of New York truly is a friend in the deepest sense of the word."

However, three months later the spats began:

  • In March 2014, Cuomo rallied against de Blasio’s proposal to raise city income taxes on wealthy New Yorkers to pay for his education plans, something he had campaigned for
  • In January 2015, the governor shut down the subway during a snowstorm with only a 15-minute warning to the mayor
  • After that, an anonymous Cuomo administration official told the Wall Street Journal, "What we're dealing with is a mayor who is universally acknowledged to be bumbling and incompetent."
  • The mayor responded with his complaints against Cuomo a few days later, telling NY1 of the governor: "If someone disagrees with him openly, some kind of revenge or vendetta follows."
  • During de Blasio’s term, they've quarreled over homelessness, public housing, funding mass transit, taxes, and the deployment of state troopers to New York City.
  • The most inane incident was when a white-tailed deer was on the loose in Harlem. The animal died in captivity while the two sparred over what to do with it.

Mayor de Blasio’s 2nd and final term ends in 2021 so his time as mayor is winding down. That may be the reason, according to political insiders, he is stepping out of Cuomo’s way. It might have been a smooth road to another political office or even retirement until the COVID-19 pandemic and the killing of George Floyd stirred up racial tensions and hostilities toward the police department.

During the pandemic, the city released data showing the disproportionately damaging impact of COVID-19 on black and Latino New Yorkers. According to a former aid who requested anonymity, de Blasio’s efforts to enforce measures like social distancing was to appease outer-borough white New Yorkers. He called it “a really strong case of a politician who misdiagnosed why he was elected, and then didn’t really revisit the analysis.”

Bill de Blasio is white, and his wife, Chirlane Irene McCray, is an African American writer, editor, and activist. The couple has two bi-racial children. Their daughter, Chiara de Blasio, was among 345 protesters arrested in New York. She was charged with unlawful assembly.

Most black New Yorkers voted for him in 2013 and 2017 but some have become disillusioned with him. Donna Clinkscales, a 60-year-old longtime New Yorker with two black sons who voted twice for de-Blasio told Politico, “He hasn’t done anything for police reform. He keeps supporting the policemen, and they’ve shown, time and time again, that they don’t care.”

He has also faced difficulties with the New York Police Department (NYPD) during his term. In 2017, at the funerals for two slain officers, the uniformed men turned their back to the mayor in a gesture to express their dissatisfaction over a trip he took to Germany when the policemen killed in the line of duty.

NYPD has been cracking down on the people protesting the death of George Floyd in the city. Dozens of people were arrested in New York City on Wednesday after a curfew went into effect, including reportedly dozens in Cadman Plaza in a confrontation with police. The NYPD officers were also seen pushing protesters from their bikes.

Similar incidents have occurred across the city in the past few days. Videos of armored officers pushing, beating and pepper-spraying the protesters have been doing the rounds.

De-Blasio’s problems may be that in his efforts to please everyone, he may end up pleasing no one.

De Blasio and Cuomo New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (L) and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo attend a news conference at Bellevue Hospital in New York Oct. 23, 2014. Photo: Reuters