Thursday, July 14, 2005


Let's Call The Whole Thing Off...

So, a white Jewish Republican billionaire mayor of a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans 8-1 suffers two huge humiliating body blows -- losing his West Side Stadium and the 2012 Olympics -- in three weeks.

These were dream projects for the mayor and his closest political advisor, but most New Yorkers were either indifferent or hostile to (indeed Olympics organizers cited the "lack of public support" as one reason that New York failed in its Olympic bid). Meanwhile, many New Yorkers feel that it's becoming increasingly expensive to live in the city -- particularly in Manhattan.

In this atmosphere, one would expect that that GOP mayor would be reeling, right? He would be facing a horde of challengers and collapsing in the polls, right?

Yeah, well, so much for the New York City mayor's "race". It's "race" in quotes, because it is one in name only. Rather than Republican Michael Bloomberg in dire straits, he is in fact completely dominating the political scene. When District 37, the Big Apple's biggest municipal workers union endorses the GOP mayor nearly four months before the general election, this thing is just about over.

For point of reference, four years ago DC 37 first endorsed then-City Comptroller Alan Hevesi in the primary. The union then switched to then-Bronx Borough President Freddy Ferrer for the mayoral run-off. Finally, about a week before the general election, the union went for actual Democratic nominee Mark Green. Bloomberg beat Green in the general.

Apparently, DC 37 decided to skip the middle steps this time around. It's been several years since the union was the political "powerhouse" the mayor claims it is in a press release touting the endorsement. Still, the significance can't be ignored. As the Times says, "Many of the union's members are black or Hispanic, and many are in the lower middle class, representing demographic groups that Mr. Bloomberg's aides said were pivotal to his re-election."

So much for the very groups that would provide the base for leading Democratic candidates, the aforementioned Mr. Ferrer and Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields. In one fell swoop, Bloomberg has brought himself some considerable minority support to his campaign. Meanwhile, Fields has allowed a silly photo-shopped campaign flier that should have been a one-day story turn into a full-fledged ongoing media mess now in its second week. Ferrer, after being knocked off-track several weeks ago in a self-inflicted wound over the four-year old death of Amadou Diallo, is now grasping around looking for an issue that might stick with voters.

And this is happening before the campaign even really heats up (the Democratic primary isn't until September). Four years ago, Bloomberg spent about $73 million for his win. Millions more in public funds were spent for the Democratic primary and general election campaigns). Given the way this race is shaping up, the city would be better off scrapping the election and spending the money on something that people care about. The mayor's race ain't it.

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