Campaigning ‘Like a Brooklynite?’ NYC Mayor Calls It a Compliment

Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Sen. Bernie Sanders. (Photo: Ralph Freso for Getty Images)

What exactly does it mean to campaign like a Brooklynite, anyway?

“I assume the phrase ‘campaigning like a Brooklynite’ is a compliment,” Mr. de Blasio, who was elected to the city’s highest office from its most populous borough, said with a smile at an unrelated press conference in Manhattan today.

The turn of phrase turned some heads during a conference call held by Hillary Clinton’s chief strategist, Joel Benenson, when he applied it to Ms. Clinton’s challenger in the Democratic primary for the presidential nomination, Brooklyn native and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Some interpreted the comment as a dig.

“He’s going to campaign like a Brooklynite, and she’s going to campaign like a senator who represented the state for eight years and lived here for 16,” Mr. Benenson said during a call on the campaign’s expectations for a competitive race.

It’s no wonder Mr. de Blasio, a supporter of Ms. Clinton’s, interpreted the line as a compliment—after all, he resembles that remark. The mayor, often sporting a “Brooklyn” hoodie, so loves his Park Slope neighborhood that he routinely drives from Gracie Mansion to visit his old gym and favorite restaurants. And the former city councilman and public advocate has run plenty of campaigns as a Brooklynite—including Ms. Clinton’s 2000 Senate bid.

“I don’t know where Joel Benenson’s from, and I don’t know what he meant—but I think  Brooklyn being one of the most admired places in the country right now, and the culture of Brooklyn being associated with you know, spirit and spunk and energy and resolve, I think that’s a compliment,” Mr. de Blasio said.

(Mr. Benenson is from Queens.)

While there’s been no head-to-head polling on which is more popular, it’s probably safe to say people feel more positively about Brooklyn than they do about the U.S. Senate, considering a recent poll showed just 11 percent of Americans think Congress is doing a good or excellent job.

“Any candidate for president—be it Hillary, Bernie, or otherwise—should be fortunate enough to have the grit and tenacity that defines a Brooklynite,” Borough President Eric Adams said in a statement.

Will the remark hurt Ms. Clinton’s Brooklyn cred? Not with Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President Carlo A. Scissura.

“My opinion is, she’s a Brooklynite. Her office is in Brooklyn. I worked for Marty Markowitz for many years, and if Marty thought she was a good Brooklynite, she’s a good Brooklynite,” Mr. Scissura said. “She knows the borough. She’s marched in a lot of parades. Anyone who can hold their own in a West Indian carnival like Hillary Clinton did on Eastern Parkway is a good Brooklynite.”

As for Mr. Sanders, a graduate of James Madison High School who went on to call Vermont his home?

“I think the only thing Bernie has left form Brooklyn is an accent that most Brooklyites don’t even recognize anymore,” Mr. Scissura quipped.

The New York Democratic primary will be held on April 19.

Campaigning ‘Like a Brooklynite?’ NYC Mayor Calls It a Compliment