One of the First Outside Spending Pushes for 2020 Goes for Bill de Blasio

A hotel union in New York is readying one of the first outside spending campaigns of the Democratic primary for president, promising to commit hundreds of thousands of dollars in the coming weeks to boost the prospects of Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Mr. de Blasio has polled between zero percent and 1 percent in early surveys of the 2020 race and will cling to the outermost edge of the debate stage next week. But Peter Ward, the president of the 40,000-member New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council, which recently endorsed the mayor, is undeterred.

Mr. Ward said Wednesday that the union planned to amplify Mr. de Blasio’s message of fighting for the working class with ad campaigns in three of the key early states: Iowa, New Hampshire and, in particular, South Carolina. The campaign is likely to include digital and television advertising.

“We’re supporting him because, in short, we want to try to help him get on the national stage, talk about working people’s issues, maybe help frame the debate,” Mr. Ward said in an interview. “And, if he gets a little lucky and catches a little fire, more than that.”

There have been only two significant union endorsements in the sprawling 23-candidate field: the International Association of Fire Fighters for Joseph R. Biden Jr., and the local hotel union for Mr. de Blasio — two candidates at opposite ends of the polling spectrum.

Mr. de Blasio could use the help as polls have shown him with among the highest unfavorable ratings in the field since he declared his candidacy one month ago.

Calling Mr. de Blasio “our hometown guy,” Mr. Ward said the mayor had been a particular ally of the hotel union workers in their continuing battles with Airbnb, while also pushing to raise the minimum wage and expand universal pre-K across New York City.

“When you get past the name calling and listen to the facts, he has done more for working people in New York than almost anybody on that stage can talk about having done for people they’ve represented,” Mr. Ward said, referring to the debate stage. He added that the union could spend $1 million or more supporting the mayor.

In addition to the funds it will spend independently, which must be done without coordinating with the campaign, the union is undertaking an unusual effort to organize its members to donate directly to Mr. de Blasio. Mr. Ward said nearly 5,000 members had contributed about $80,000 to the campaign.

The number of unique donors could prove as valuable as the amount they have given. The Democratic National Committee will require campaigns to have at least 130,000 donors to qualify for the third debate in September.

Mr. de Blasio has declined to release any fund-raising information so far.

Olivia Lapeyrolerie, a spokeswoman for Mr. de Blasio, said the hotel union “is leading the charge to put working people first in New York City, and the mayor is honored to have their support.”

The push to have members give directly to the candidate also amounts to a local political power play for the union, which is already considered one of New York’s more politically potent labor groups. In New York City’s municipal elections, such as the next mayoral race in 2021, small contributions from New York City voters are matched at an 8-to-1 ratio with public funds.

“We view this as an opportunity to have a dress rehearsal,” Mr. Ward explained. As to whether the would-be candidates for mayor in 2021 will be watching the union’s 2020 efforts, he added, “I hope so.”

For now, though, the focus is on Mr. de Blasio.

“If he’s on the stage, some people will make mistakes, maybe he can capitalize on them,” Mr. Ward said. “Maybe he can stay in the race for a while, impact the race and who knows?”

Source link