New York Mayor joins 2020 presidential race

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday he will seek the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, despite a panning by US media and polls which suggest he faces a tough fight.

De Blasio becomes the 23rd prospective Democratic challenger to President Donald Trump.

“Donald Trump must be stopped. I am Bill de Blasio and I am running for president because it’s time we put the working people first,” he said in a video announcing his candidacy.

De Blasio, 58, who first ran as an unapologetic leftist in 2013, said the country’s money is “in the wrong hands” and added that he knows how to challenge Trump on climate change, an issue on which the president has demonstrated scepticism.

As the Democratic mayor of the nation’s largest city for the past five years, he coasted to re-election in 2013.

Despite the old truism that the job of New York mayor is the second toughest in America after that of the president, de Blasio — sometimes nicknamed “Big Bird” for his lanky, 6-foot, 5-inch (1.97-meter) frame — is one of the few people openly confident of his chances.

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While he has been testing the waters for months, travelling to early voting states like Iowa and South Carolina despite a packed mayoral schedule, his campaign has been met with widespread derision.

Democratic polling has been particularly humbling back home for de Blasio.

An eye-popping 76 per cent of New York City voters said he should not enter the 2020 presidential race, compared with just 18 per cent who said he should, according to a Quinnipiac University poll from early April.

The mayor who succeeded billionaire Michael Bloomberg on the promise of reducing the city’s glaring inequalities has defended his own progressive record, arguing it could be a national model.

He introduced free universal pre-kindergarten and paid sick leave, and early this year rolled out a plan to guarantee health care for all New Yorkers.