There are some new personal revelations in the race for mayor, as Democratic nominee Bill de Blasio said Monday that his father committed suicide in 1979. The news came as de Blasio continued to promote his pre-K plan on the campaign trail. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.
Bill de Blasio has been reluctant to speak about his late father, a World War II veteran who was also an alcoholic. De Blasio's parents divorced when he was young.
But the fact that his father committed suicide 34 years ago, when de Blasio was just 18 years old, may be the real reason he has kept so quiet.
"I've tried to be open about the broad reality of my youth and what was going on in our family, but this particular piece is just particularly painful and difficult, and wasn't something I felt real comfortable talking about," de Blasio said in an interview on WNYC Radio.
De Blasio acknowledged his father's suicide in a statement released just minutes before the New York Post published an article about his father's death. He ended his life while battling terminal cancer.
"I remember just waiting while my brother went to identify the body, and it felt like a very, very long time and a very, you know, confusing time," de Blasio said.
De Blasio was actually named after his father. He was born Warren Wilhelm Jr. He changed his name twice as an adult. De Blasio is his mother's maiden name.
The news broke after de Blasio spent the morning with preschool students in East Harlem. It was a fitting backdrop as he doubles down on his plan to have the city offer universal pre-kindergarten. He says he would pay for it with a tax hike on New Yorkers who make more than $500,000 a year. The tax increase requires Albany approval.
Albany insiders have said it would be a non-starter next year, when Governor Andrew Cuomo is up for re-election.
Despite the longshot odds for de Blasio's pre-K tax hike plan, he is remaining publicly optimistic, De Blasio said that the only scenario he is thinking about is victory for his plan.