‘Senator Provolone’ Doubles Down on Pre-K Message

Bill de Blasio reads to preschoolers in East Harlem.

Bill de Blasio reads to preschoolers in East Harlem.

It’s official: Senator Provolone is running for mayor.

Today, The Boston Globe introduced the world to the high-school version of Bill de Blasio, a gangly young activist with a passion for student government and a rather creative nickname: “Senator Provolone.”

“That is a true statement. I cannot deny that,” the front-running mayoral candidate said today after Politicker asked about the nickname.

Mr. de Blasio, who attended Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, explained that the name began as a well-meaning taunt that involved his gung-ho attitude and his mother’s notable sandwiches–and happened to stick.

“I was in student government in high school and obviously very, very interested in politics, got involved very early on. And I was very overtly proud of my Italian heritage and talked about it a lot. And someone combined the two phrases in a comical–what’s the word I’m looking for? Someone help me out,” he said, turning back to a group of supporters gathered behind him.

“When they’re making fun of you, but it’s not cruel, what’s the word I’m looking for? Come on. Group participation!” he urged.

“Good natured?” offered one woman to his right.

“Good natured. Good-natured ribbing!” he said. “And unfortunately it stuck. So people used it.”

Bill de Blasio gets a hug.

Bill de Blasio gets a hug.

Mr. de Blasio was in East Harlem to once again double-down on the cornerstone of his mayoral campaign: a plan to raise taxes on  the rich to fund universal pre-kindergarten. After visiting a class at the Children’s Aid Society school, where he read and received a group hug, Mr. de Blasio argued that his plan–which will need support from Albany–is crucial to creating “a more equal city for the future.”

“If we don’t address the needs of children early, we are not addressing the disadvantages that some children bring with them,” he told reporters, describing his proposed tax on those who make $500,000 or more as a small amount that would have a “huge, huge impact.” “This is where we will change the future of this city,” he said.

Many, including Mr. de Blasio’s opponents in the primary, have expressed skepticism about the chances of the tax hike passing Albany–especially in an election year. But Mr. de Blasio–who said he’d discussed the idea “broadly” with Gov. Andrew Cuomo–expressed confidence that he’d succeed.

“You’ve seen the governor’s comments. He’s expressed an openness to this specific proposal and I think there’s going to be a lot of public support.” he said.

“I think I’ve said this really, really consistently. This is a major, major priority. If the people choose me on November 5th, it’s going to be one of my top priorities … I anticipate in the April 1st, 2014 state budget.” he said, declining to answer questions about whether he would look to find money in other areas of the city budget if the measure doesn’t pass.

“Look, I appreciate scenario questions and I know it’s your job to ask it. But you’ll appreciate that I have one scenario and one scenario only I’m thinking about and that is victory for this plan,” he said. “We have one plan and our plan is to get that passed.”

Earlier, Mr. de Blasio visited a class at the school and gave an animated reading of “My Family is Forever” by Nancy Carlson, about a little girl and her adoptive family. Watch Mr. de Blasio read to the class below:

‘Senator Provolone’ Doubles Down on Pre-K Message