In 2003 Mayor Bloomberg launched his ill-fated (and it appears today to be politically unnecessary) effort to give NYC nonpartisan elections. We had mixed feelings at the time, primarily because it was so self-serving in its genesis. In addition, we also were working against Question 5, part of the charter referendum, that would have given the Department of Consumer Affairs judge and jury status over local stores.
Today, however, we’re not so sure where we stand. The reason for the musing comes from news of the official launching of Anthony Weiner’s mayoral campaign. We’ve definitely been impressed with his stands on taxes and small business but he has had trouble gaining traction among Democratic primary voters.
Weiner’s launch was keynoted by a pledge to lower taxes. In essence, he is taking a position to the right of the mayor in his appeal to roll back real estate taxes that are really hurting homeowners and neighborhood businesses. Yet we’re not sure that this issue, a galvanizing one we believe in a general election, will resonate for Weiner in the primary.
Which brings us to nonpartisan elections. The nature of the Democratic primary forces candidates to generally take the most liberal position on the issues. What is also does, however, is to open the door for moderate Democrats/Republicans like Bloomberg to win mayoral elections by appealing to moderate and conservative voters.
In four years, this may all be irrelevant since both Adolfo Carrion and Bill Thompson do have the ability to appeal to moderate voters. But, then again, no one saw Bloomberg coming in 2001 and it’s not inconceivable for another faux Republican billionaire to come along and borrow the mayor’s playbook.
All of which would be obviated by nonpartisan elections which would, by forcing candidates to appeal to a broader constituency, moderate their appeal and give democrats like Weiner a much better chance to win. This would be good for the Alliance’s neighborhood concerns.