NYC Mayor-Elect’s Most Important Adviser: His Wife

A key component of Bill de Blasio’s appeal, Chirlane McCray blazes a trail for female partners of politicians around the country.

Is Chirlane McCray, New York mayor-elect Bill de Blasio’s spouse, setting a new type of standard for political wives? It sure looks that way. According to the New York Times, McCray isn’t content to quietly stand behind her man and secure spots on Best-Dressed lists (really, Vanity Fair?). And De Blasio doesn’t want her to be. He calls her, “the most important adviser I have,” and has solicited her opinion on everything from campaign strategies to staff hires. An activist and a writer, McCray definitely has the chops to help inform policy decisions and shape the effect of her husband’s mayorship (apparently she was a key component in his support of the smoking ban in restaurants), and, refreshingly, it seems that such a thing is expected. Though McCray’s role in his upcoming administration remains vague, it’s likely she’ll have an office at City Hall, and participating in meetings is a given. According to the Times, “Together, the pair map out political strategy, court endorsements, deliberate policy, recruit staff and write speeches, insisting on a degree of equality and collaboration that is rarely found between elected officials and their spouses.” Over at Slate, Jessica Grose wonders why this is a story, citing highlights of First Ladies’ political influence, but we disagree. It’s true many political wives have likely had influence over their husband’s actions in office, but they did it from the shadows, or more often the kitchen. De Blasio and McCray’s supportive union sets a precedent for NYC, a city that hasn’t had a happily married mayor since the early ’90s. And the couple’s shared influence garners them comparisons to the Clintons, one of the only other political couples in our history that the public viewed as a political package. This kind of outspoken equality is so far unseen in New York and rare in general. A City Council staff member, Abeni Crooms, calls their working relationship “new and unusual.” New, we’ll agree with. We hope the “unusual” quickly becomes irrelevant.

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