Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Iowa forum on income inequality has been called off, his left-leaning organization announced this afternoon.
The Progressive Agenda, the nonprofit group launched by Mr. de Blasio, a liberal Democrat, to advance his national political agenda, said the oft-criticized presidential forum was being cancelled because solving income inequality had become more important to the presidential race.
“It is clear other efforts beyond the previously-planned presidential forum will more effectively advance the cause of fighting income inequality,” said Geri Prado, the group’s executive director. “However, TPAC [The Progressive Agenda Committee] will continue to work with our leaders at the local, state and federal levels to implement tangible solutions to what is the crisis of our time.”
Ms. Prado said the group would “roll out a new Leadership Council, and will implement an aggressive multi-platform communications effort with our supporters to ensure these issues remain part of the national conversation” and continue its “efforts to achieve policy and legislative changes that fight inequality at the local, state and federal levels.” She cited a recent MSNBC forum with the Democratic candidates as proof that the Progressive Agenda’s event wouldn’t be necessary.
The move to call off the forum amounts to some degree of saving face for Mr. de Blasio, who drew criticism at home for his travels to other states to promote progressive causes. Mr. de Blasio had hoped Democratic and Republican presidentials candidates would attend, but few, including front-runner Hillary Clinton, would confirm their attendance.
Mr. de Blasio is hoping to be a national spokesman for urban issues and the resurgent progressive movement, though he has not come close to reaching the stature of Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Ms. Clinton’s top challenger, or Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
While Ms. Prado boasted of the Progressive Agenda counting more than 100 leaders and groups spanning 20 states, it’s not clear what exactly the group has accomplished since its founding earlier this year.
On NY1 earlier today, Mr. de Blasio dodged two questions about whether he was going to hold the forum. He said he would have more to say on the forum’s future “soon.”