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August 31, 2015 / 16 Elul, 5775
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RACE TO CITY HALL

Can a Bearded Candidate Become Mayor? Yes and No

“I didn’t leave my beard — my beard left me,” de Blasio told The Post.
Bill_deBlasio_beard stages

Bill de Blasio is not a Hasid, although he represented Borough Park in the city Council. Nevertheless, the NY Post took issue with the mayoral hopeful getting rid of his beard as soon as he was considered a serious candidate for mayor.

“As a Brooklyn councilman, de Blasio sported a beard when elected in 2001, taming it to a rakish mustache and goatee by the time he was public advocate in 2010. Just a year later, he made his smooth transition,” the Post noted.

“I didn’t leave my beard — my beard left me,” de Blasio told The Post, explaining that it was vanity, not politics, that led him to shave it off. “I started to notice flecks of gray . . . and I didn’t like the look,” de Blasio admitted, adding he “immediately felt younger after the shave.”

Experts said de Blasio’s close call makes sense, because conventional wisdom says facial hair doesn’t cut it in politics.

“In modern times, it makes the general public wince,” said political consultant George Arzt, who worked on de Blasio’s campaign for public advocate. Voters find facial hair “untrustworthy,” he added.

However, Arzt cautioned, “you can’t keep switching off from beard to mustache and goatee to nothing — then you don’t have a steady image of that person. That could work against him.”

Which raises the question: can a candidate with a beard become mayor of New York City? Maybe that’s why Joe Lhota, the Republican favorite, is considered a long shot. Joe Lhota — is the lone bearded candidate in the race. The last bearded mayor of New York City was William Gaynor, who served from 1910 to 1913. He was also the only mayor targeted by an assassin; he survived being shot in the throat in 1910, but died three years later.

“Having facial hair is not a determent,” Lhota declared to The Post. “I have no desire to shave it. That’s not going to happen. Plus, Republicans can get away with it more than Democrats, because they have this image of being self-made people.”

And Arzt confirmed to the post: “if anyone can pull it off, Lhota can, because the beard is part of his personality.”

About the Author: Jacob Kornbluh is described as an up and coming Orthodox Jewish Blogger, writing about Local, national and Israeli politics, and a freelance reporter for various publications. Kornbluh's work has been featured in Haaretz, the NY Times, local blogs, and on local Jewish Radio, Kornbluh also covers the NYC 2013 mayoral race in general and a focus on the Jewish vote in particular at: http://nymayor.blogspot.com. Follow Jacob on Twitter @jacobkornbluh and his daily blog: jacobkornbluh.com


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