Thursday, February 19, 2009

Bloomberg's Line Dance

The era of post-partisanship has ended-at least it has for Mike Bloomberg, whose third term bid has left him bereft of a political perch from which to run from. As the NY Times reports this morning: "Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has denounced political parties as a “swamp of dysfunction,” has bankrolled a campaign to eliminate them from the New York City elections and has dismissively cast off his own party affiliations like ill-fitting garments. (Democrat? Been there. Republican? Done that.) But now, in what may rank as the most humbling experience of his mayoralty, Mr. Bloomberg is pleading with those same scorned parties to put his name on their ballot lines this fall, dispatching aides to apologize for past offenses and arguing that he cannot win re-election without their support."

What are his chances? In our view, putting aside our deepest hopes and wishes, the cash nexus will once again rule; put simply, Bloomberg may have to pay a little more than he wanted to, but pay he will-and with enough money being offered across the table there will be a buyer eventually. But it certainly is fun, at least for now, watching the mayor flounder.

The fun devolves from the way in which Bloomberg must reverse course into a tawdry partisanship that he claimed he was much better than: "The fierce resistance from parties that embraced Mr. Bloomberg in 2001 and 2005 highlights the unexpected pitfalls of his efforts to operate above politics. After hopscotching the globe during his second term, expounding on topics like international health and climate change, he is now left to explain why, for example, he never thanked some local party officials who gathered signatures for his last campaign."

Of the three parties that are truly in the mix-Republicans, Working Families, and Independence-it is the Republicans that are the most aggrieved: "He has so much disdain for political parties and now, all of a sudden, he needs us,” said Phil Ragusa, the chairman of the Queens Republican Party, which is still fuming over the mayor’s decision to bolt from the party in 2007 to become an independent (after he ran for mayor as a Republican — twice.)"

And his governing philosophy hasn't endeared the mayor to the rank-and-file Republican voter: "At the same time, Mr. Bloomberg’s June 2007 announcement that he would leave the Republican Party and become an independent as he mulled a presidential run infuriated Republicans. They were already unhappy that he had appointed so few Republicans to prominent jobs in his administration, and his policy proposals, including proposing a congestion pricing fee and raising property taxes, did not help. “He’s taken what we care about for granted,” said Jay Savino, the chairman of the Bronx Republican organization."

As far as the Working Families Party-positioned on the left side of the political continuum-the mayor is like Lucy; he's gotta lot of 'splaining to do: the term limits debacle was, after all, their baby: "When the mayor’s presidential plans fizzled early last year and he pushed through an extension of the city’s term limits laws, he managed to alienate the Working Families Party. Dan Cantor, the party’s executive director, said it was “unlikely” that the mayor would appear on the Working Families ballot this fall. “It’s like a shot from the half court line in basketball,” he added. “They sometimes go in, but it’s not exactly a high-percentage shot.”

Which leaves the wacky NYC edition of the Independence Party-who the mayor abandoned when he sided with the state party in an internal dispute; since, as the NY Post reports, there's little chance Mike gets to run as a Democrat with the Bronx and Brooklyn firmly in the Thompson camp: "But a series of court cases left the city’s party leaders in power — and livid with Mr. Bloomberg. In interviews, at least three of the Independence Party’s five county leaders expressed objections to nominating the mayor, even as they praised his record in office.
“He regarded us as a group of people he needed, could use, and then he could walk away from,” Mr. Newman said."

So Mike Bloomberg is left to beg; and our only advice here is, if you're going to make a deal, make sure its both a good one, and that all of the money is fronted-because Bloomberg's word is simply no good, and his loyalty to any principal is as evanescent as his outsized ego and mercurial self interest. As Daddy told us, in any business deal make sure you get at least a dollar up front; because that's the only dollar you can ever be sure of.

This advice goes double for any political deal with Mike Bloomberg. And while Marty Golden, the recipient of much from the mayor's campaign giving, is counseling Republicans-in Howie Mandell fashion-to take the deal, Phil Ragusa is holding out; and making a lot of sense in the process: "State Senator Martin J. Golden, a Brooklyn Republican, predicted that Republican Party leaders will come around. “At the end of the day, there is nobody who can do more for the Republican Party and the city than Mike Bloomberg,” he said. Mr. Ragusa, the Queens County Republican leader, is not convinced. Since Mr. Bloomberg has shown no allegiance to the party, “we have zero going in. So if we have zero going out, we haven’t lost anything.”