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October 22, 2009 @ 3:29 pm

The President and the Democrat for Mayor

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Via Elizabeth Benjamin and The Daily Politics

“In the end, however, what really matters is this image and the fact that Thompson can say he has the president’s support. The average voter will likely neither know nor care about Obama’s enthusiasm level where this race is concerned.

Thompson is likely to get considerable mileage from this photo. Look for it on palm cards, campaign mailers and perhaps coming soon to a TV screen near you.”

Filed under In the Trenches, News · 1 Comment »

October 20, 2009 @ 5:52 pm

Hip Hop Recording Artist’s Rap Song Rails Against Bloomberg

Hoping to raise some awareness about the November election, hip hop artist Rief Rawyal voices his fiery opinion in his campaign song “Issues.” Please pass the song along.

Filed under A Good Manager?, Hear This Song!, Music, Cartoons, Etc., term limits · 1 Comment »

October 19, 2009 @ 9:02 am

Giuliani Says Vote for Bloomberg Or NYC Will Become Detroit

Via The Daily News:

Former mayor Rudy Giuliani warned Sunday that crime rates could soar to 1990s levels and the city could again be a victim of terrorism if Mayor Bloomberg doesn’t win reelection.

Giuliani’s dire predictions came during a tag-team campaign swing – the first time Bloomberg has tapped the one-time GOP star for help on the stump this election season.

“This city could very easily be taken back in a very different direction,” Giuliani told a crowd of ultra-Orthodox Jews at a breakfast sponsored by Brooklyn’s Borough Park Jewish Community Council. “It could very easily be taken back to the way it was with the wrong political leadership. Politics is important. It’s important toour safety. It’s important to our security.”
Read rest of story…

Filed under bloomberg and the boys, cynical, News, Reading List · 2 Comments »

October 7, 2009 @ 12:04 pm

Kornacki: Why Isn’t Bloomberg Pulling Away?

The Observer’s Steve Kornacki says funny things are happening in this year’s mayoral election. The mainstream media has been acting like it’ll be a decisive victory for Bloomberg, but come November, the mayor may be surprised:

Lest I be accused a month from now of having had my head buried in the sand while this turned into a real contest, let me state for the record: Bill Thompson could end up making this a much tighter affair than we think.

Since he muscled a term-limits extension through the City Council last year, and especially since he and his P.R. machine intimidated Anthony Weiner out of the race this spring, the media has treated Michael Bloomberg’s re-election as a fait accompli—even as the gaping, dominant pre-election polling advantages that marked the run-up to his 18-point 2005 victory over Fernando Ferrer have failed to materialize. (I include myself in this company.)

Historically speaking, the media is on fairly sturdy ground in doing this. Bloomberg retains very healthy personal popularity among voters (a 64 percent personal favorable score, in one recent poll), enjoys one of the most absurd financial advantages in political history, and has picked off numerous key figures from his opponent’s party.

Moreover, that opponent, Thompson, is barely known to voters, has almost no money to define himself, and has inspired so little confidence among his fellow Democrats that President Obama—who has happily campaigned for the two other Democrats running in high-profile races this year—is refusing to lift a finger for him. Thompson’s only major built-in advantage in this election is his party label, and we saw with Ferrer in ’05 (and with Ruth Messinger in 1997) how little that—on its own—is worth.

In this sense, it’s been reasonable to treat Thompson as a dead politician walking. There just aren’t that many examples of candidates who came anywhere close to winning while facing the kinds of barriers that Thompson faces in this campaign. And the few that there are generally aren’t applicable to the Bloomberg-Thompson race.

For instance, unknown, under-funded candidates who were dismissed by the media (and their own party) occasionally pull off shocking upsets in congressional races. But this generally happens because the incumbent has been affected by scandal or finds him or herself swimming against the national tide, or because of some kind of intra-district turf war between the incumbent and his or her local party leaders.

No one sees these coming because congressional races aren’t covered and polled as extensively as statewide contests. If they were, “upsets” of this variety probably wouldn’t really be upsets.

A few examples from this class of upset include the indicted Dan Rostenkowski’s defeat at the hands of no-name Republican Michael Flanagan in an overwhelmingly Democratic Chicago-based House district in 1994, the indicted Bill Jefferson’s loss to no-name Republican Joseph Cao in an equally Democratic New Orleans-based district last year, and 15-term Iowa Republican Jim Leach’s 2006 loss to no-name Democrat Dave Loebsack—the product of that year’s fierce anti-G.O.P. tide.

These aren’t examples from which Thompson can draw much inspiration. Bloomberg, obviously, is not under indictment and is actually viewed quite favorably by the public. And as an independent (and one who has successfully avoided Democratic efforts to tie him to the national G.O.P.), Bloomberg doesn’t risk being on the wrong end of any partisan tide. Plus, if there is an anti-incumbent tide building across the country, it’s not damaged Bloomberg’s job approval—which hovered near 70 percent in one recent poll—enough to do Thompson much good.

But there have been occasions, few and far between though they are, when seemingly unbeatable, personally popular, scandal-free incumbents like Bloomberg have nonetheless found themselves sweating on Election Night for reasons that only began to sink in after the ballots were counted.

Perhaps the textbook example of this occurred across the Hudson nearly 20 years ago, when Bill Bradley sought his third Senate term. Just like with today’s mayor’s race, the press spent the entire campaign dismissing the idea that the election would even be competitive.

Bradley was a popular celebrity (a 60 percent personal favorable rating) who’d been re-elected in 1984 with 64 percent of the vote. He had the right party label for a state that hadn’t sent a Republican to the Senate since 1972, and he had lots of money—$12 million, back when that actually meant something.

His opponent, the then-unknown Christine Todd Whitman, won the G.O.P. nomination for the same reason Thompson got this year’s Democratic nod: No one else wanted it. She was a former county-level official who had zero name recognition and no money.

In its obligatory pre-election analysis of the race, the New York Times wrote that, “New Jersey politicians agree that a Bradley defeat would be a stunning surprise, since Ms. Whitman started her campaign little known to the public and has raised little more than $300,000 to Mr. Bradley’s $11 million.” Switch Bloomberg’s and Thompson’s names in and adjust the numbers and that same assessment could be written today (and probably has been).

The New Jersey race ended with a near-miss for the ages. After a white-knuckle night of ballot-counting, Bradley survived by just 55,000 votes—a 50 to 48 percent squeaker that humbled him out of the 1992 presidential race, and that transformed Whitman into a brand-name and helped her claim the governorship in 1993.

The reason for the unexpectedly close contest was taxes: In the summer of 1990, New Jersey’s Democratic governor, Jim Florio, had increased them by $2.8 billion. Bradley refused to take a position on them in the fall and the election results were the first proof that a genuine tax revolt was underway in the state—one that would profoundly reshuffle the its politics over the next few years. Everyone knew the tax hike would be unpopular; the election served notice that the anger was deeper and more enduring than anticipated.

Thompson’s hope is that term limits will be the same under-the-radar phenomenon in 2009 New York that taxes were in 1990 New Jersey. It’s rare for a single issue to become so resonant, but the Bradley example shows that, when it does, it can cancel out just about all of the advantages enjoyed by an otherwise invulnerable incumbent.

Of course, the prevailing assumption this year has been that term limits—a process issue—simply can’t and won’t motivate voters the way a tax hike might. In general, this is true: Congressmen routinely break term limits pledges and pay a negligible price in the next election.

But you could make a case that Bloomberg’s situation is different. He didn’t merely break a pledge—he threw his weight around to change the law, one that had twice been approved by voters. He’s spent his political career (successfully) fighting the idea that he’s just some rich, transactional plutocrat who thinks everything has a price. Against this backdrop, his term limits maneuvering is far more dangerous than simply going back on a promise. It invites emotional resentment from the public.

A new Survey USA poll released on Tuesday showed Thompson within 8 points of the mayor, 51 to 43 percent. Let’s assume for the sake of this exercise that the poll isn’t the outlier it might well be. Given all of his advantages—and the media’s consistent willingness to dismiss Thompson—Bloomberg should be much farther ahead than this.

No doubt the brutal economy is a factor. But it might be that term limits is a bigger explanation than is generally assumed; it would explain why voters who generally like the mayor and generally approve of his performance are keeping their distance. Remember, the fact that he’s not a Democrat (while most voters are) can’t really explain his numbers: Bloomberg also wasn’t a Democrat in 2005, but he led polls then by more than 30 points. Something else is at work this year.

Bloomberg will still probably win this race with plenty of breathing room. But funny things happen. And one of them might be happening right now.

Filed under In the Trenches, News, Reader Comments, term limits · Comments Off on Kornacki: Why Isn’t Bloomberg Pulling Away?

October 6, 2009 @ 6:07 pm

Reading List: Bloomberg’s War on Native Americans/Marijuana, Thompson’s New Attack Ad

* New York magazine reports that Mayor Bloomberg has declared war on a tiny Native American tribe on Long Island over cigarette taxes.

* Tony Newman, director of media relations for the Drug Policy Alliance Network, writes in the Huffington Post that Bloomberg’s war on marijuana is just a really ineffective policy. He’s also irritated with Matt Damon, an admitted marijuana smoker, for jumping on the Bloomberg bandwagon.

* Obama is likely staying neutral in the mayor’s race reports The New York Times. Bloomberg is attempting to align himself with our popular President despite refusing to endorse Obama during the Presidential elections and praising his rival, Republican Sen. John McCain. Thompson had not only endorsed Obama, but volunteered for him in Pennsylvania.

* How’s Bloomberg’s calorie posting policy working? Not very well, according to a study by New York University and Yale, who tracked the eating habits of customers at four fast-food chains and found that they were consuming more calories than they were before the policy went into effect in July 2008. Richard Lipsky writes that this is the danger of ideologically-driven health advocacy without legislative review and says New Yorkers can use this as a cautionary tale — that is, unless they re-elect Bloomberg.

* Thompson is coming out with a few new TV ads:

* SteveinNYC has some tips for Thompson.

Filed under In the Trenches, News, Reading List · Comments Off on Reading List: Bloomberg’s War on Native Americans/Marijuana, Thompson’s New Attack Ad

October 6, 2009 @ 1:38 pm

Poll: NYC Democrat Challenger Thompson Looms Large in Republican Mayor Bloomberg’s Rear-View Mirror

The Thompson campaign forwarded over results from a SurveyUSA election poll sponsored by WABC-TV New York, which shows the Democratic mayoral challenger trailing Bloomberg by only eight percentage points. This shows much promise for Thompson since Bloomberg has spent a whopping $65 million in his run for a third term, compared to the $4 million Thompson has spent at this point.

In an election for mayor of New York City 10/06/09, one month until votes are counted, incumbent Republican Mike Bloomberg faces strong opposition from Democrat Bill Thompson, according to an exclusive WABC-TV poll conducted by SurveyUSA. Today: it’s Bloomberg 51%, Thompson 43%. Bloomberg has outspent Thompson 16:1.

Bloomberg, first elected in 2001, term-limited until the law was changed to permit him to seek a 3rd term, leads among older voters, trails among younger voters. The Democratic challenger leads in Brooklyn and The Bronx. The billionaire Republican incumbent leads in Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island. The Democrat leads among blacks, the Republican leads among whites, Hispanics and Asians. Democrats split. Republicans and Independents back Bloomberg.

Unsurprisingly, Azi Paybarah reports that Bloomberg spokesman Howard Wolfson says that the SurveyUSA poll is “out of whack with other public polls and the reality.”

Filed under In the Trenches, News, Reading List, term limits · 1 Comment »

October 1, 2009 @ 3:52 pm

Thompson on the Trail with New Yorkers Ready for Change

REPORTER: Even with all his years of experience, people are still wondering: Why run against the billionaire mayor? Thompson says because he won’t be like Bloomberg, who he defines as out of touch with the needs of ordinary New Yorkers. That’s a welcomed message for Jacob Daskal, who voted for Bloomberg twice but is ready for a change.

DASKAL: My three-year-old kid can do the same job that the mayor did on the people’s back. Taking the people’s money, middle class money, hiking everything. Taking a full loaf of bread and giving us back some crumbs.

(Via WNYC)

Filed under In the Trenches, News · 1 Comment »

September 1, 2009 @ 10:11 am

The Brooklyn Paper Meets the Democratic Mayoral Candidates

Via Boro Politics:

Meet Councilman Tony Avella

Excerpt:

The Queens Councilman said he would shrink Bruce Ratner’s stalled mega-project, which currently calls for an arena and 16 skyscrapers near the junction of Flatbush and Atlantic avenues.

“They have to reduce the density, I think it’s too much for that area,” said Avella, who in June called for a reduction in the scale of a planned 17-story high-rise near the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge in DUMBO.

Mirroring comments made by Mayor Bloomberg during his endorsement interview with The Brooklyn Paper, Avella also scorned the kinds of community benefits agreements that Ratner inked with several groups, some of which did not exist before they signed a contract offering their support for the project in exchange for financial backing.

Read rest of story…

Filed under In the Trenches, Reading List · 1 Comment »

August 26, 2009 @ 4:58 pm

Voting Out Bloomberg is a Rapper’s Delight

Grammy Award-nominated Rapper Q-Tip, best known for being a member of the American hip hop trio “A Tribe Called Quest,” isn’t a Bloomberg fan, and hopefully, he can convince his more than 93,000 followers on the popular micro-blogging site Twitter to go to the polls on Nov. 3. If anything, Q-Tip can remind the younger voting demographic why a vote for Bloomberg will be a vote against the quality of life for the average New Yorker.

Via Newsday:
Rapper Q-Tip explains anti-Bloomberg Twitter crusade

Rapper Q-tip called Mayor Michael Bloomberg “way out of touch” with common New Yorkers as he gave reasons Wednesday behind his recent Twitter attacks on the mayor’s re-election effort.

“His viewpoint of New York City is from his East Side town house . . . his occasional jaunt to a neighborhood is when he has to go for political substance or [to] quell anger in a neighborhood,” Q-tip told Newsday.
Read rest of story…

Filed under cynical, News · 1 Comment »

August 25, 2009 @ 12:22 pm

“Spend it all, Mike!”

Via The City Room:

So what if Michael R. Bloomberg has outspent William C. Thompson Jr. by 13 to 1 so far?

The mayor’s race may resemble, financially, a match between David and Goliath, but one the underdog’s supporters has a message for the giant: Bring it.

The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which supports Mr. Thompson, the city comptroller and the leading Democratic candidate in the race, has begun a cheeky, defiant advertising campaign urging the mayor to “spend it all.”

The message “expresses not only our concerns about the way this election is being conducted, but also our confidence that, regardless of how much money his Republican opponent spends, Bill Thompson’s vision for New York City will make him our next mayor,” the union said in a statement.

The mayor spent at least $150 million of his personal fortune in his first two races, in 2001 and 2005, and has vowed to spend as much as $80 million or more this time around. So far, he has spent $37 million on his 2009 campaign. That compares with about $2.7 million spent by Mr. Thompson, who has raised $6 million.

Filed under In the Trenches, News, ritztastic · Comments Off on “Spend it all, Mike!”

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