When Mayor Bill de Blasio faced off with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand – and eight other Democratic presidential hopefuls – on July 31, it might have marked the last Billy and Gilly Show at the presidential debates.
“It’s going to be awful tough for either of them to get the donors and polling numbers” needed to qualify for the September debates,” longtime Democratic strategist George Artz says. “De Blasio doesn’t have the donors, and both are way down in the polls.”
Political consultant Hank Sheinkopf says it’s “50-50” that either will make the next round: “Anything can happen, but they’re not likely to qualify.”
Candidates need a minimum of 130,000 unique donors and have to hit at least 2 percent in four qualifying polls. Eight candidates have hit those marks and are assured a spot onstage in Houston on Sept. 12 and 13. They are former Vice President Joe Biden, Senators Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar and Bernie Sanders, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke.
A few others are close, but none of them are named de Blasio or Gillibrand.
Neither campaign returned requests for comment.
Pundits generally agree that Warren and Sanders held off the more moderate field on the first night. Booker and Yang got high marks on the second night, but Biden and Harris are still ahead in the polls.
De Blasio and Gillibrand largely ignored each other except for one clash over the fate of NYPD cop Daniel Pantaleo, who has been on modified duty for five years since he put a fatal chokehold on Eric Garner.
A small group of protestors briefly disrupted the debate, repeatedly shouting “Fire Pantaleo.” De Blasio, who has refused to order Pantaleo fired, said the Garner family would “get justice” within 30 days. He did not elaborate.
That was not good enough for Gillibrand. “Pantaleo should be fired,” she exclaimed. “He should be fired right now.”
Former Housing Secretary Julian Castro also attacked the mayor on Pantaleo, saying: “That police officer should be off the street.”
Arzt says de Blasio’s answers “have never been good on Pantaleo ... I don’t think he helped himself out there. ... It wasn’t a smooth performance.”
On Friday, Aug. 22, NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Trials Rosemarie Maldonado issued a non-binding recommendation that Pantaleo be fired. He was immediately suspended, as per department policy. The recommendation went to the Civilian Complaint Review Board. Lawyers in the case have two weeks to respond. The recommendation then goes to NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill, who can accept, reject or modify the ruling.
As the July 31 debate, de Blasio came out swinging at the July 31 debate by yelling that he wanted to “tax the hell out of the rich." Arzt says the mayor “sort of looked desperate trying to get into the debate, at one point trying to rearrange the agenda ... I don’t think he helped himself as far as polling goes.” He said Gillibrand was “erratic at best, though she had one of the best lines by saying the first thing she would do as President would be to ‘Clorox the Oval Office.’”
On the money front, Gillibrand has raised $14.8 million nationwide, compared to $46.2 million for Sanders, $35.5 million for Warren and $32.2 million for Buttigieg. De Blasio, who started campaigning relatively late, pulled in just $1.1 million total, according to the latest reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.
De Blasio raised $833,010 of his total in New York State, but that, too, pales in comparison to Buttigieg, who picked up $2.45 million in New York, Booker with $2.36 million and Gillibrand with $1.93 million.
Gillibrand racked up her highest Manhattan totals on the Upper East Side, Chelsea and the Upper West Side. Buttigieg did best in Chelsea/Clinton, the Upper West Side and the Lower East Side. Booker pulled the most from the Upper East Side and Upper West Side.
Both consultants said it will be harder for de Blasio and Gillibrand to keep raising a lot of money.
“If you don’t dominate in the debates,” Sheinkopf says, “you don’t get the money.”
Gillibrand racked up her highest Manhattan totals on the Upper East Side, Chelsea and the Upper West Side.