Mayor Starts Peeling Off Campaign Bucks 9 Months Before Election
It is still nine months to the November election for mayor and other offices, yet billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg has already started to shell out campaign bucks to get himself re-elected. And not a minute too soon, we say.
Remember, the mayor has to clear what could be a big hurdle in September, the Republican primary challenge from former City Councilmember Tom Ognibene of Middle Village. So the early activity, in the form of a mass mailing to politically independent voters, as reported in last Friday’s New York Post, could pull in some help from independent Republicans to give the mayor September support.
The early mailing dovetails with the results of a recent New York Times poll which showed the mayor has a 41 percent favorable rating. The poll also revealed that most of those surveyed still have not yet formed opinions, favorable or unfavorable about Bloomberg’s prospective Democratic opponents: Fernando Ferrer, Council Speaker Gifford Miller, Congressmember Anthony Weiner, and Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields.
The mayor could get the jump on this quartet with his mailing, which lauds his crime-fighting and education accomplishments in the first three years of his freshman term. He also paints himself as an independent, not aligned with any political party, and pointedly refrains from mentioning he won election in 2001 as a Democrat-turned-Republican or that he wants to run as a Republican again to get re-elected.
Another aim of the mailing is to try to garner some campaign help. Prior to the mailing, the mayor addressed this issue when he unofficially kicked off his campaign last Tuesday at a huge and lavish party at B.B. King’s Blues Club in Times Square. The bash, intended to sign up 50,000 volunteers, was attended by 1,200 guests as 500 more waited outside. It was open bar inside and mobile food trucks outside, so the mayor’s campaign directors were covered all around.
The mayor showed he depends on lots of volunteer help to push his re-election engine. He’s aiming to recruit 50,000 volunteers, about 10 times more than he had in 2001. He spent a record $75 million to pull off that victory and it looks like he’ll pass that figure this year.
Meanwhile, Campaign Finance Board records show Miller leading his three Dem colleagues as to finance with more than $4 million in the bank followed by Ferrer ($2.5 million), Weiner ($1.5 million) and Fields ($1.1 million).
HAUNTING ISSUE: As all these positive, good-feeling aspects of the campaign go forward, the mayor is faced with what could be a horrendous, very damaging defeat on the Jets stadium issue.
Following chief nemesis Cablevision’s $600 million bid for the stadium site, which threw a huge monkey wrench into the mayor’s and Jets’ plans, the MTA opened the bidding and set March 21 as the deadline to receive all bids.
Should the mayor lose on this issue, it would severely damage his summer Olympics 2012 plans and deal him a monstrous public relations defeat. It seems to us, judging from Mayor Mike’s public (televised) responses on this issue that he’s very concerned about it.
The Jets had offered a measly $100 million for the site and now, at a minimum, might have to ante up six times that amount to counter Cablevision’s bid and possibly more. Cablevision seems to have clearly out-played the mayor and taken the upper hand in this controversy.
EARLY BIRD WEINER: As the MTA abruptly opened the bid process in response to demands that it seek the maximum price it could get for the rail yards, Weiner was quick to remind one and all that he called for an open bidding process last month to dispose of the huge stadium site.
The Queens/Brooklyn lawmaker opposes the Manhattan stadium for the Jets, preferring that it be in Willets Point in Flushing near Shea Stadium in order to help build this borough’s economy. He said last week: “We should derive the greatest value and ensure the best plan for all New Yorkers, not just Mike Bloomberg’s favorite developer. An open process will get us the most creative and smartest plan.”
CRITICIZES ‘EDUCATION MAYOR’: Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr (D–Astoria) was among several city lawmakers who joined teachers and principals last week to criticize Bloomberg’s proposed $1.3 billion cut in school construction programs in his proposed capital budget.
The funding cut means, the group charged, that toilets used by 25,000 children in Queens schools will not be repaired. Brooklyn and Manhattan students will be hurt, too.
At a press conference at I.S. 10 at 45-31 31st Ave. last Thursday, the group said: “While Mayor Bloomberg makes the choice to find creative ways to finance a football stadium on Manhattan’s West Side, public school children citywide are fighting to learn in buildings barely fit for occupancy.”
GOP LEADER SCOLDED: It is rare when Republican Governor George Pataki and Democratic City Council President Gifford Miller see eye to eye on anything. But both agreed last week that State Republican Party Chairman Stephen Minarik was off base when he called Democrats “a party of terrorist supporters” for their alleged support of attorney Lynne Stewart, who was convicted last week of smuggling messages from Omar Abdel-Rahman, the blind Muslim cleric who was convicted of masterminding the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993.
Pataki, who picked Minarik for the chairman’s post, rebuked the GOP party leader for making the charge, and Miller called on Minarik to apologize for his “bizarre and inflammatory” remarks.
As icing on the cake for the Democrats, a picture, which Minarik released as the basis for his charge turned out not to be of Stewart with several Democrats but another woman.
LAFAYETTE LISTS PRIORITIES: At a meeting last week of Democrats from Queens in the Assembly chaired by Assemblymember Ivan Lafayette (D–Jackson Heights), dean of the delegation, the group said it would fight to secure $5.2 million for collaborative programs involving colleges in the borough, the same as last year.
The delegation felt these programs have been a great success, said Lafayette.
The delegation set as another priority opposition to relocating the state Division of Disability Determination program from Jamaica to Manhattan, which would eliminate 200 jobs held by Queens residents.
The group also set as other priorities affordable health care, increases in higher education and elementary education funding and affordable housing.
Last year, one delegation priority which was enacted was a 10 percent credit of qualified movie or television production costs incurred in filming in the state. Long Island City-based Silvercup Studios and Kaufman Astoria Studios in Long Island City both benefited from the job- and revenue- producing rebate program.
CANDIDATES: Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum will have another opponent when she seeks the Democratic nomination to run for another term–Assemblymember Michael A. Benjamin from The Bronx. Former New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Norman Siegel has also announced he would challenge Gotbaum in the primary.
Buffalo resident Denise O’Donnell threw her hat into the Democratic primary ring for state attorney general last week. The former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York State joins Assemblymember Michael Gianaris (Astoria), Assemblymember Richard L. Brodsky (Westchester), Sean P. Maloney, one-time aide to President Bill Clinton, Mark Green, former Public Advocate and Andrew Cuomo former housing secretary in the Clinton cabinet. Gianaris leads the pack in fundraising with $1.6 million.
CLUB MEETING: The William Jefferson Clinton Democratic Club will meet tomorrow evening at 8 p.m. at Reception House 167-17 Northern Blvd., Flushing, Councilmember James Gennaro (D–Fresh Meadows) announced.