De Blasio opines on New York vs. Florida

17 April 2023

“I’m not here to be negative to another state,” former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said at the top of a debate about whether Florida or New York is the more livable state.

Then he proceeded to do just that.

“Florida is going in the wrong direction unfortunately when it comes to MAGA extremism,” de Blasio said in his opening remarks for the virtual sparring session with the Manhattan Institute’s conservative political commentator Reihan Salam.

Open to Debate hosted the conversation titled, “Is Florida Eating New York’s Lunch” amid reports that more than 10,000 New Yorkers have relocated to the Sunshine State so far this year. “There’s some beautiful places in Florida, I get that,” de Blasio said.

“The Floridian model of development is not a particularly sustainable one,” he said, decrying the state’s use of gas-guzzling SUVs and suburban sprawl.

Meanwhile Salam avoided many of the usual talking points of the right in the Florida vs. New York debate. He barely mentioned taxes, the exodus of wealthy New Yorkers or crime. Instead, he focused on the Empire State’s affordability crisis — something Gov. Kathy Hochul has also honed in on.

“We’re really losing strivers,” said Salam, noting that the city’s workforce has not bounced back from the pandemic in sectors like construction and hospitality that often employ working class and immigrant New Yorkers. He also decried the cost of housing.

“I think New York City is great. I pay a lot of money to live here,” said Salam, who noted his parents immigrated to the Big Apple from Bangladesh in the 1970s.

But, he said, “the city has become an aristocracy,” adding that it’s only “tolerable” for the rich and otherwise unlivable for the poor and middle class.

The event was taped on Friday but airs April 28 on the Open to Debate podcast. Listen to the end for questions from POLITICO, The New York Times, City & State and Tallahassee’s WFSU Public Radio.