Obama Steers Clear of New York City Mayoral Race

First, President Obama was causing controversy by involving himself in New York politics, asking Gov. David Paterson not to run again. Now he's causing ...
by | September 30, 2009

First, President Obama was causing controversy by involving himself in New York politics, asking Gov. David Paterson not to run again. Now he's causing controversy by not involving himself in New York politics. The New York Daily News explains:

President Obama is refusing to get involved in the city mayor's race unless Bill Thompson can somehow close the gap with Mayor Bloomberg.

...

The negotiations over an endorsement are ongoing.

Still, the White House made it clear the President doesn't want to get involved unless the controller can make the race "competitive," the Democrat close to Thompson said.

To a large extent, this controversy is a symptom of New York's (justified or unjustified) robust sense of self-importance. How often do presidents actually involve themselves in local elections? No one is asking when the president will make his endorsement in the Albuquerque mayoral race or the Charlotte mayoral race or the race for county executive of King County, Washington.

Nonetheless, the absence of an Obama endorsement for Thompson could come with real consequences. Bloomberg's politics are liberal enough that he routinely attracts endorsements from many high-profile Democrats. Some of those Democrats might have hesitated knowing they would have been defying the de facto head of their party.

Those are real consequences, perhaps, but are they significant ones? The White House's calculus seems to be that an Obama endorsement wouldn't change enough minds to propel Thompson to victory. If that's the case, you can see why the president thinks he has better things to do than make Michael Bloomberg's margin of victory a little bit smaller.

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
mailbox@governing.com

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