Kevin de León’s Campaign Was a Public Relations Disaster

Opinion: Kevin de León’s defenders emerge, but they’re still a minority

Last May, Kevin de León was in the throes of a mayoral race. A first-time politician who never sought political office, de León had become a media darling.

Suddenly, he found himself a front-runner against two of the best-known politicians in town, both of whom had spent more political time in the statehouse than he had in the schoolhouse.

That’s how Kevin de León ended up with a three-week gap between his final public appearance as a candidate and the moment he officially became the candidate for the mayor’s office.

His campaign was supposed to culminate in a final debate, a news conference, and a pep rally at the ballpark — all of which would have been at least two hours long, and all of which would have served as an enormous public relations boost for de León’s candidacy.

But the mayor couldn’t make the debate, because his opponent, Mike Bloomberg, had only a single debate question. (The debate was supposed to be between de León and Bloomberg’s friend, Christine Quinn, who was supposed to debate de León and Quinn.)

The final news event was supposed to be the pep rally, to close out a busy week. On the night before the final day, de León got a phone call from his campaign manager.

“They called me and they said my debate was canceled. Because the National Association of Hispanic Journalists — which runs the Latino New York media market, and is a powerhouse for minority journalists — got into a beef with my campaign,” de León told The Post.

De León was livid. His campaign had been humiliated, because his big, three-week news event of three presidential debates had been canceled. His campaign manager had been fired.

For de León, it was a public relations disaster. But even as he was fuming about it, Bloomberg’s team had found a way to make it better.

And that’s how the pep rally came to be.

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