New York City’s newest mayor, Bill de Blasio, was sworn into office in the first moments of the new year with the blessing of some very important friends seated in the front row: Bill and Hillary Clinton.
The former president and the Democrats’ greatest hope to run for president in 2016 have a long history with de Blasio. And they’ve drawn upon that history to help pave the way for New York City’s first Democratic, and most progressive, mayor in more than 20 years.
Bill Clinton further cemented the relationship with a symbolic swearing-in ceremony of de Blasio today.
“I strongly endorse Bill de Blasio’s core campaign commitment that we have to have a city of shared opportunities shared prosperity shared responsibilities,” Clinton said today moments before leading de Blasio in his oath of office. “This inequality problem bedevils the entire country.”
The Clinton-de Blasio connection goes way back.
De Blasio served in Clinton’s administration in 1997 as the highest-ranking New York and New Jersey official in the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
One prominent Clinton hand, former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Harold Ickes, has played a crucial advisory role in the de Blasio campaign, also helping to corral the donors in the Clinton orbit that de Blasio needed to win the general election after he rocketed from relative obscurity to front-runner in the final days of the Democratic primary last year.
It was also Ickes who helped place de Blasio in the high-profile role of manager of Hillary Clinton’s 2000 Senate campaign, though the post did not make him an instant insider in the famously cloistered Clinton inner circle.
Nevertheless, that connection has paid dividends.