Despite repeated denials that he has any thoughts on or ambition to run for president of the United States or any office higher than the one he holds now, Mayor Michael Bloomberg was invited last week to share a national ticket and has been encouraged to run for governor of New York state.
The laid-back mayor made no move to take the bait, but will continue to pursue his anti-gun and clean energy initiatives, and to speak out on national issues.
Not even a New York Daily News poll that showed him beating former Mayor Rudy Giuliani for president among New York state voters could... entice him to drop his "I will not run" stance.
For several months now his chief political guru, Kevin Sheeky has been burnishing Bloomberg's national image. During that time, the mayor has made frequent trips to Washington to testify before congressional committees or traveled to other states for speaking engagements.
Then last week, U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel, a Nebraska Republican whose name has been floated as an independent presidential candidate, appealed to Bloomberg to join him on a 2008 Republican ticket.
Appearing on "Face the Nation", Hagel, a Vietnam veteran and critic of President George W. Bush's war in Iraq, praised Bloomberg as "the mayor of one of the greatest cities on earth [who] makes that city work. That's what America wants."
Hagel also revealed that he and the mayor had dinner last week and discussed the 2008 presidential election but "didn't make any deals".
Also early last week, the New York Post reported that an unnamed Republican in Albany said he had heard Bloomberg say on two occasions that he would be interested in running against Spitzer. Bloomberg denied the report.
But state Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno has reportedly said that he would love for Bloomberg to challenge Spitzer four years from now.
Then, on Monday, a Daily News poll of state voters found Bloomberg was favored over Giuliani as a presidential prospect by 46 to 29 percent, and was seen as the better mayor by a 56 to 29 percent count.
The talk about the mayor's great potential as a presidential candidate even prompted U.S. Senator Charles Schumer to offer an assessment of a Bloomberg run against Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton.
Schumer said, in effect, if Bloomberg ran as an independent candidate, he wouldn't stand a chance.
However, we must admit that this little boomlet for the mayor has impressed us. It has all developed without the least encouragement by the mayor, and when one considers all the time remaining until November 2008, all the possibilities for frontrunners to make missteps, all the surprise developments that occur in election campaigns and how quickly the mayor's financial capabilities can have a campaign up and running... well let's just wait a little longer before we write off the reluctant candidate.
$2.7M MORE FOR FLUSHING BAY CLEANUP: Congressmember Joseph Crowley (D- Queens/The Bronx) has applied for another $2.7 million of federal funds to continue the cleanup of Flushing Bay near LaGuardia Airport.
For a very long time, the foul odor emanating from the bay has had nearby residents complaining loudly.
Crowley has been successful in getting the feds to approve appropriations for the cleanup over the past several years and the Army Corps of Engineers has been busy attacking the problem.
Now the lawmaker has requested another $2.7 million to keep the project going. Congress must approve it in the near future.
HOSPITAL CLOSINGS REVISITED: Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno asked Governor Eliot Spitzer last week to reconsider the hospital closings announced several months ago by a special commission.
Silver and Bruno told Spitzer that several lawmakers were already holding discussions with the state Department of Health as part of an effort to salvage some institutions that were ordered to be shut down.
"The governor has indicated we should have these conversations with the Health Department and go forward and see what we can do," Silver said afterward.
The New Parkway Hospital in Forest Hills is on the list of healthcare institutions to be closed.
GOP 'CANDIDATES' SCHOOL': About 50 potential candidates showed up at the Queens Republican Party's "candidate school" last Saturday in Bayside in response to County Leader Philip Ragusa's efforts to generate more challenges to Democratic incumbents at the polls.
Among those showing up, Ragusa said, were "billionaire" supermarket owner John Catsimatides, who has been talking about a possible run for mayor on the GOP line in 2009 and "millionaire entrepreneur" Michael Ricatto, who is eyeing a congressional race.
Two Democrats also made surprise appearances, Ragusa said: incumbent City Councilmember James Sanders (D- Laurelton), whose two-term career will be over at the end of 2009 because of term limits, and former state Senator Ada Smith, who was voted out of office in 2005.
The would-be candidates got some pointers on getting elected by veteran Republican incumbent state Senators Frank Padavan and Serphin Maltese and Councilmember Dennis Gallagher.
Party Vice Chairman Vince Tabone reviewed Ragusa's plans to revitalize the organization and said the candidates' school was Ragusa's brainchild.