Mr. de Blasio often says that he has a “story to tell” about New York’s accomplishments, but his own narrative is also compelling. He was born Warren Wilhelm Jr. to a German-American father and an Italian-American mother; his father, a veteran who struggled with alcoholism, later killed himself. His relationship with his father was strained, and Mr. de Blasio eventually took his mother’s last name.
Raised in Massachusetts, Mr. de Blasio attended New York University, and became a leftist activist who admired Nicaragua’s ruling Sandinista party. He later ran campaigns for Hillary Clinton and Charles B. Rangel, and then ran for office himself, winning elections to become a New York City councilman, public advocate and mayor.
He is married to Chirlane McCray, who has spearheaded ThriveNYC, the city’s mental health initiative; they have two children and their biracial family’s prominence, particularly their son Dante’s Afro, played a large role in his 2013 campaign for mayor.
Some of Mr. de Blasio’s colleagues have scoffed at the idea of him becoming president, and have urged him to abandon his exploration of occupying the White House and instead focus on a bevy of nagging issues in New York City such as crumbling public housing, high levels of homelessness and problem-plagued subways. Mr. de Blasio said that many of the answers for what ails the city actually lies 200 miles beyond its borders in the nation’s capital.
“I am concerned that I think right now our federal government is not helping New York City in a whole host of ways and we’re being hurt all the time by bad policies in Washington,” Mr. de Blasio said at a news conference last month. He cited the lack of a national infrastructure plan and fractured health care policies. “So real changes are needed in our country,” he said. “If they don’t happen, New York City continues to suffer.”
The mayor will have to make up a huge fund-raising disadvantage as he builds out a campaign staff, and close a seemingly insurmountable gap in polls. In a Monmouth University poll last month, Mr. de Blasio had a net favorability of zero: 24 percent like him, 24 percent do not like him. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont is the only candidate with a higher unfavorability number, 26 percent, but his favorability rate was 67 percent.