NYC Mayor: Bloomberg Faces Early Tests

When New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg ran for reelection in 2005, the votes of nearly 1.3 million New Yorkers determined his fate. This year, five votes ...
by | March 6, 2009

Bloomberg_lowres When New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg ran for reelection in 2005, the votes of nearly 1.3 million New Yorkers determined his fate. This year, five votes may be all that matters.

Those would be the votes of the five Republican borough chiefs of New York City. They have to decide whether to take back Bloomberg in spite of his partisan two-timing. He became an independent in 2007, but now seeks the G.O.P.'s backing so that he doesn't have to run for reelection without a party line.

This is relevant because, by the usual metrics, Bloomberg is in a strong position for reelection, but is not unbeatable. His popularity has taken a modest hit as the economy has swooned.

Still, according to polls from Quinnipiac and Marist, Bloomberg leads his likeliest Democratic opponents, U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner and City Comptroller William Thompson, by double digits in head-to-head races. That's even before the mayor spends his vast wealth to promote his reelection.

Bloomberg, then, might only be in real trouble if he gets squeezed from both sides. If he faces competition from both a credible Republican and a credible Democrat, then the mayor's centrist base might not be enough to push him to victory.

Fellow billionaire John Catsimatidis wants to be the Republican nominee. It's pretty easy to imagine a scenario where Catsimatidis takes the votes of conservatives who are fed up with Bloomberg, allowing the Democratic candidate to win merely by holding his own base.

It's easy to imagine, but not likely to happen. Catsimatidis sounds as though he doesn't want to run if Bloomberg does. Plus, the Republican borough chairs seem increasingly likely to back Bloomberg.

If that happens, 212 people in Albany will be the next ones to play a critical role in the mayoral race. Bloomberg is only running for a third term because the City Council relaxed term-limit rules to enable him to do so. State legislators (of whom there are 212) are now talking about requiring a voter referendum before term limits could be relaxed, although the prospects of that bill appear iffy.

If he gets the Republican line and if he's permitted to run for a third term (two moderate-sized ifs), Bloomberg is still in a good position to win because he has positioned himself squarely in the center of New York City's political spectrum. I thought this finding from Marist was pretty incredible:

When it comes to the mayor's political ideology, 49% of New York City voters see Mayor Bloomberg as a moderate.  Another 25% view him as a conservative while 26% consider him a liberal.

In American politics, when voters are confused as to whether you're a conservative or a liberal, usually that's a good thing.

Previous mayoral preview: Anchorage

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
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