Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Ragged Coattails

Lost in the mayor’s lopsided victory, is the fact that a number of City Council seats were decided yesterday as well. In particular, we were extremely glad to see Jimmy Vacca win up in the Bronx as he will play an important role in the whole BJ’s issue on Brush Avenue and at the Terminal Market.

The broader lesson learned from the Democratic sweep of contested Council seats was that the Mayor’s coattails didn’t mean all that much. Though Republican candidates like Patrick Murphy prominently featured the mayor’s endorsement in literature and while stumping, it seems that Bloomberg’s support amounted to very little.

The reason for this is that New York is still an overwhelmingly Democratic city and that people voted for Bloomberg not because of but despite his Republican label. Therefore, the electorate’s approbation of the billionaire mayor was not, as some hoped, a sign that the Republican Party is on the rise. Though it’s true that Democrats have been out of the mayoralty for 16 years – and the party definitely has work to do in terms of shoring up support for 2009 – locally this town is still dominated by one party.

The interesting questions is whether Bloomberg’s inability to propel his favored candidates into office is the first sign that he will have some major problems in his second term. Obviously, the mayor’s support – unlike Giuliani’s – does not derive from a base that passionate identifies with his ideological and political philosophies. Otherwise, wouldn’t the mayor have been able to rally support for the Republicans he endorsed?

It seems more likely that people view Bloomberg as managerially competent and while this is a plus it can just as quickly become a negative when the competence is tested by a crisis. For while a base sticks with you through thick and thin, lukewarmly committed supporters will turn on you without a second thought and people will feel like returning the expensive mayor that they were sold.