With the support of 43 percent of likely Democratic voters, he could win the primary without a runoff, according to the latest Quinnipiac poll.
Yet these same traits, so appealing to a growing segment of city Democrats, could be used against him come November.
“Republicans will be looking to really frame this election as continuing the course, going forward with the progress we’ve made as a city under [former Mayor Rudolph] Giuliani and Bloomberg," says David Johnson, a senior Republican consultant and CEO of Strategic Vision, an Atlanta-based political consulting agency. "And they see [de Blasio’s rise] as a chance to really frame it this way.”
It’s an argument that Republicans would have much more difficulty launching against the other top Democrats, including City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, or former Comptroller Bill Thompson, both of whom who have run careful, centrist campaigns – at least by New York City standards.
“With Quinn, and with some of the others like Thompson, Republicans don’t see this dynamic as much,” continues Mr. Johnson, a veteran of high-profile political campaigns. “But de Blasio, they do, and they feel really that they have a chance to hit him for being so liberal, so out of step and potentially costly to New York.”
Make no mistake, the odds are still stacked against either of the leading Republican candidates. Joe Lhota, former deputy mayor under Mayor Giuliani, currently leads John Catsimatidis, the billionaire owner of a grocery store chain, by a 2-to-1 margin, according to the Quinnipiac poll.
But Republicans could see a glimmer of hope against a de Blasio nomination, many observers say.