Citigroup executive Ray McGuire, a political moderate, considers running for mayor of New York

Key Points
  • Citigroup's Ray McGuire is being encouraged to run for mayor of New York, and he has not ruled out a bid, sources told CNBC.
  • While McGuire has not ruled out running, he is currently dedicated to Citi and has no immediate plans to start preparing for a candidacy, these sources added.
  • McGuire, who has supported Democrats, could be the moderate voice sought by the New York business community following unpopular progressive Bill de Blasio's tenure as mayor.
Ray McGuire, vice chairman of Citigroup Inc., speaks during a Bloomberg Television interview at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California, April 29, 2019.
Patrick T. Fallon | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Ray McGuire, a longtime Citigroup executive, is being encouraged by allies in the business community to run for mayor of New York.

McGuire, Vice Chairman of Citigroup and Chairman of Banking, Capital Markets and Advisory, has been asked by other Wall Street and corporate executives to aim for the mayor's office in the 2021 race as Bill de Blasio's second term heads toward its end, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter.

While McGuire has not ruled out running, he is currently dedicated to Citi and has no immediate plans to start preparing for a candidacy, according to the people, who declined to be named since these conversations were deemed private.

Danielle Romero-Apsilos, a spokeswoman for Citi, did not deny that McGuire has privately talked about running for mayor.

"Mr. McGuire is solely focused on his role at Citi; talk about him considering a run for mayor of New York City is pure speculation," she told CNBC.

De Blasio's term ends in January 2022. He recently said he has "no interest" in a third term as mayor. Law permits people to hold the office for two consecutive terms. Prior to de Blasio's tenure, however, billionaire mogul Mike Bloomberg served three consecutive terms due to a temporary change in the law.

Discussions about a potential McGuire bid come as the city is in the midst of a crossroads as it contends with an unpopular lame-duck mayor and a heated battle over a new bail-reform measure.

De Blasio has been back on the job full time since he struggled to gain traction as a Democratic presidential candidate. His approval ratings suffered. A poll taken just before he withdrew from the race in September, taken by Siena College said 58% of New York City voters ranked him as unfavorable while only 27% saw him in a favorable light.

New York state's new bail reform law appears to be hurting the mayor's office, as well. The law, which went into effect this month, eliminates, in some cases, money bail and pretrial detention requirements. However, after recent stories of some suspects being set free only to later commit a crime, there's been outcry from conservative lawmakers and law enforcement authorities. Gov. Andrew Cuomo and de Blasio have since called for changes to the law.

McGuire could be a moderate voice the New York business community since the progressive de Blasio began his tenure. Fellow businessman Bloomberg, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, served as mayor as a moderate Republican and then an independent prior to de Blasio's election.

Beyond his work at Citi, McGuire had stints at Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch, after starting his career at New York-based First Boston Corp., which was eventually acquired by Credit Suisse. McGuire, who was raised in Dayton, Ohio, is credited with being a lead advisor on numerous deals that are estimated to be worth over $600 billion combined.

McGuire has also dedicated himself to a wide range of political issues in between his duties at Citi. McGuire was one of 27 black leaders who condemned a mob that poured water on New York police officers last year.

"As African-American leaders who are proud to call New York City home and/or where we work, we were appalled at the recent verbal attacks on and water dousing of police officers in Harlem and Brooklyn who appeared to be lawfully executing their responsibilities to keep our communities safe and orderly," they said in a letter to the editor of The New York Times.

At a Yahoo Finance event in October, McGuire called on Americans to come together on a wide range of issues including health and wellness, climate change and income inequality.

A New York magazine, City & State, listed McGuire as the 63rd most powerful black leader in the Big Apple. De Blasio reappointed McGuire in 2015 to the Cultural Affairs Advisory Commission, which promotes "affordable housing and workspaces so that NYC can remain a viable home for emerging artists."

McGuire has become a player in Democratic donor circles, including being a key financier for those running for president. He was a member of Sen. Kamala Harris' finance committee and recently took part in a meeting featuring former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign chairman, along with other Wall Street leaders.

It was there where McGuire told Biden advisor Steve Ricchetti and the rest of the group that he would like to see the former vice president stay connected to two constituencies, according to those familiar with his remarks. One group consists of voters in the middle of Ohio, and the other consists of African American women.

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