By Agence France-Presse
New York Mayor and 2020 presidential candidate Bill de Blasio found himself under fire Sunday — notably from the state’s governor — for being out of town when a major blackout hit the city because he was campaigning in Iowa.
The hours-long blackout on Saturday night, which plunged Times Square into darkness and brought subways to a halt, affected more than 70,000 customers on Manhattan’s West Side.
The power returned gradually from around 10:00 pm (0200 GMT Sunday), with full service restored at about midnight. The cause is still under investigation.
De Blasio had planned to spend the night in Iowa, and initially told CNN he needed more information before he could decide whether or not to rush home. That hesitation earned him quick scorn on the internet and beyond.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat like De Blasio, pulled no punches when he himself appeared on CNN.
“Mayors are important and situations like this come up and you have to be on site,” Cuomo said late Saturday.
Despite their party affiliation, there is no love lost between the pair, and they are often at odds politically.
Cuomo arrived in the city as the blackout was still ongoing and was giving a press conference as the lights started to come back on.
De Blasio eventually returned home late Saturday and took to the airwaves on Sunday to defend himself.
“The important thing is to have the hand on the wheel and make sure things are moving effectively and communicate to people,” he told CNN.
“When you’re a mayor, or a governor, you’re going to travel for a variety of reasons.”
But Cuomo said during his eight years in office, “I can count the number of times I leave the state basically on my fingers.”
“I think it’s important to be in a place where you can always respond but everybody makes their own political judgment,” he added.