By Jim Ellis
Jan. 19, 2017 — On the eve of Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration, we again hear talk about a potential political campaign involving the woman he defeated in November, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
There has been conjecture during the past couple of weeks from Democrats and Republicans both in and out of New York City that Clinton may make a political comeback in the upcoming New York City mayoral election to be held later this year. The rumors are fueled because Clinton is not denying interest, instead she simply is not saying anything about the subject.
Why would she challenge incumbent Mayor Bill de Blasio (D), who supported her, especially when he commands relatively strong support among Democrats, the city’s dominant political party?
Chances are she wouldn’t. But that doesn’t necessarily mean she won’t run.
Mayor de Blasio is under various forms of legal scrutiny, the most serious being alleged campaign violations brought against him by none other than the Common Cause organization of New York City.
At the heart of the controversy is de Blasio raising over $40 million for a non-profit organization, the Campaign for One New York, which was paralleling his official mayoral committee apparatus. The organization’s supposed purpose was to solicit large political contributions well above the city’s very restrictive campaign finance limits. It appears most of de Blasio’s non-profit money also came from just 30 donors.
Under the NYC campaign finance regulations, individuals with current business dealings with the city cannot contribute toward city election candidates while the affected municipal contracts are in place. It’s up to the campaign to police their solicitations, to the point of checking all contributions against the New York City contractors list that the clerk publishes for such a purpose.
If the legal pressure upon de Blasio becomes intense enough -– he has already been forced to shut down the Campaign for One New York committee -– it’s somewhat conceivable that he may be forced to back away from seeking re-election. Should that happen, or it becomes so clear that he’s a wounded candidate to the point of being vulnerable to another Democrat in the party primary, then the stage could actually be set for a Clinton return.
Obviously, Ms. Clinton would be formidable in the city race. Looking at her presidential campaign totals against hometown NYC figure Donald Trump, it was the former secretary and New York senator who scored a crushing victory within the city confines. According to the now final NYC election totals, Clinton attracted 2,164,575 votes on the Democratic, Working Families, and Women’s Equality Party ballot lines, versus Trump’s combined 494,548 on the Republican and Conservative Party rows. Percentage-wise, Clinton captured a whopping 78.4 percent of the New York City electorate’s votes.
Obviously, such a base would make her more than formidable in any primary race, especially when the entire 2013 mayoral election turnout was less than half the size of Clinton’s 2016 NYC presidential vote.
Depending upon Mayor de Blasio’s impending legal situation, we could yet again be on the threshold of witnessing another “Clinton Watch”.