As federal and state investigations swirl around New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio,potential challengers to his 2017 re-election bid have started assessing the political climate and gauging the odds of unseating the incumbent.
Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat, has hit one of the rockiest patches of his tenure at City Hall, with an array of investigations into his administration and fundraising activities prompting would-be rivals to take stock of his vulnerability.
But for Democrats looking to challenge Mr. de Blasio, the calculus is still a tough one, as he retains significant institutional support from labor unions and black voters. Several top union officials and prominent black pastors said they had no plans to back away from Mr. De Blasio.
Investigators are examining whether Mr. De Blasio and his allies evaded contribution limits and tried to disguise the true names of contributors as part of the mayor’s unsuccessful effort to bring Democratic control to the state Senate in 2014. There are also probes into a Manhattan land deal that his aides say was mishandled, possible corruption at the police department and other fundraising activities. Several top aides and allies have been subpoenaed, including his fundraiser, campaign consulting firm and top political aide.
Aides to Mr. de Blasio said he plans to stick to his team’s re-election script, albeit with a little more worry.
Mr. de Blasio has already begun taking a more aggressive stance against the investigations, casting them in a political light by saying others are against him because he has represented constituencies often neglected by moneyed interests. His aides are seeking liberal, black and union allies to defend him.
Still, with some of the mayor’s closest allies receiving subpoenas, there is a growing fear within the mayor’s orbit that his re-election bid will be more difficult than expected. His approval rating hit a record low last month, according to a Wall Street Journal-NBC 4 New York-Marist poll.