The New York Times

October 29, 2007


Councilman Joins Race for Top Seat in Brooklyn



City Councilman Bill de Blasio, who lost a bid last year for Council speaker, said yesterday that he would run for Brooklyn borough president in 2009.


Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat, becomes the second candidate to officially enter the race, joining Councilman Charles Barron, who announced his candidacy in May.


Marty Markowitz, who has been the borough president since being elected in 2001, will lose his seat to term limits.


Mr. de Blasio, 46, who was elected to the Council in 2001, has a long résumé in politics and government. He was campaign manager for Hillary Rodham Clinton during her 2000 campaign for the United States Senate. Before that, he served as a mayoral aide in the administration of David N. Dinkins.


“I’m excited about the prospect of providing leadership for Brooklyn at this time,” Mr. de Blasio said in an interview. “Brooklyn is the epicenter of new development in the city. A lot of cultural and business and political change is happening in Brooklyn. And the next borough president will have an opportunity to shape those changes.”


He is considered an attractive candidate to some Democratic leaders because he has strong ties to labor unions. He has also sponsored welfare laws that seek to help low-income families, children and the homeless.


So far, Mr. de Blasio has raised more than $300,000 for the race, according to his most recent filing with New York City Campaign Finance Board. Mr. de Blasio said that when public matching funds are included, he has more than $500,000 to spend on the race at this point.


The Campaign Finance Board had no information about Mr. Barron’s fund-raising.


Politically, Mr. de Blasio believes he will appeal to many ethnic groups in Brooklyn largely because he has long worked with the diverse communities within his district, which stretches from Cobble Hill through Carroll Gardens into Park Slope, Sunset Park and Borough Park.


“My view is that I can build a wide coalition,” Mr. de Blasio said. “I happen to be an Italian-American with strong ties to southern Brooklyn,” he said, referring to a region of the borough with a large Italian-American population. “I come from brownstone Brooklyn and represent Borough Park,” an area with a large Jewish population.


“And historically, I’ve worked well with the African-American and Caribbean community,” Mr. de Blasio said.


Last year, Mr. de Blasio was a prominent supporter of then-Councilwoman Yvette D. Clarke during her successful campaign for Congress. Ms. Clarke is the daughter of Una S. T. Clarke, the first Jamaican-born woman to have served on the Council.


Earlier in the year, Mr. de Blasio lost an effort to become Council speaker; Christine C. Quinn of Manhattan won. And shortly after, he briefly considered challenging United States Representative Vito J. Fossella, the only Republican in the city’s Congressional delegation, in a district that includes all of Staten Island and portions of Brooklyn. But Mr. de Blasio chose not to run, saying he did not have enough time to undertake an effective campaign.


The race for the Democratic nomination for Brooklyn borough president is likely to be competitive and hard-fought. While Mr. de Blasio and Mr. Barron are the only two candidates so far, many other names have been mentioned as possible candidates.


Councilman Domenic M. Recchia Jr. has said he is also considering entering the race. Mr. Recchia, Mr. Barron and Mr. de Blasio cannot run for re-election in 2009 because of term limits.


Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company