NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio to Host Presidential Forum in Iowa

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio delivers remarks at the plenary session of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington, D.C., on January 23, 2014. Joshua Roberts/Reuters

Updated | New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio will travel to a college in Iowa later this year to host a bipartisan forum for presidential candidates that focuses on income inequality, a Simpson College spokeswoman tells Newsweek.

The mayor's office referred Newsweek to The Progressive Agenda, a set of proposals that build upon the work of dozens of economists, lawmakers and progressive activists with the aim of addressing income inequality. The mayor, along with dozens of other leaders, has supported the Progressive Agenda.

The organization is planning the event with Simpson College. Income inequality was a key issue in de Blasio's mayoral bid in 2014.

"It is a critical issue for both parties' presidential candidates to address and we are going to invite both sides to communicate their views to the voters. Details have not yet been finalized, but invitations will be going out in the days to come," Geri Prado, executive director for The Progressive Agenda Committee, wrote in a statement.

The event will put de Blasio on the national stage. Iowa is significant for campaigns because it holds the first major electoral event of the nominating process in the presidential election for both parties. The first votes of the campaign will be cast there on February 1.

It wasn't immediately clear which candidates would be invited to the forum. But representatives for Bernie Sanders, U.S. senator from Vermont, and Martin O'Malley, former governor of Maryland, told the Journal the two Democratic challengers hope to participate.

Speculation about a possible presidential bid by de Blasio, who is a Democrat, arose in April when his office announced that he would travel to Nebraska and Iowa to promote awareness of income equality. The mayor's office at the time confirmed the trip was not related to the 2016 presidential campaign.

In 2000, de Blasio ran the successful Senate campaign for Hillary Clinton, who generally is viewed as the front-runner in the Democratic race to the White House. But he has not yet endorsed her for president, which has angered some of her supporters. Clinton announced her presidential campaign in April.