Wednesday, September 16, 2009

All to the Goodwin

Michael Goodwin makes his NY Post debut today, and lays out the case-as we have already done in less majestic fashion-for a possible Bill Thompson victory-and does so with none of the suspect motives that seem to animate Dan Gerstein's Op-ed yesterday: "I wouldn’t bet against Bloomy, but his re-election isn’t a slam dunk. Thompson can win. You read that right. Thompson can win. I’m not saying he will, just that he can. He won’t need a miracle either. Lightning, thunder and luck, yes, but Thompson would hardly be the first David to bring down a Goliath. One is in the White House, and there are days when Bloomberg looks as ripe for a fall as Hillary Clinton was."

Indeed so-and the reason why the mayor is vulnerable should be familiar to the readers of this blog: "Think about it,” one formerly firm Bloomy man told me. “He’s been mayor for eight years and he has to spend $100 million now to reintroduce his brand.” The complaints center on the soaring cost-of-living and binges in government spending, along with a sense the mayor feels entitled to a third term."

Is this the, "progress," that the mayor's prattling on about? And there's more: "I spy three reasons for shifting sentiment. First, elections are a referendum on the incumbent, and this is not a good year for incumbents. The recession pain for many here is acute as incomes fall and prices keep rising. Much of the pain is driven by City Hall, with spending under Bloomberg about 25 percent above inflation. Real-estate taxes are climbing even as market values fall, and virtually every levy and fee has gone up sharply since 2002, and still it’s not enough to satisfy the government beast. The businessman mayor, who promised to guard the buck, has been too quick to spend it."

Put simply, Mike Bloomberg has been profligate with the tax payers' money-and to beat him Thompson's gonna need to do a bit of creative triangulation that runs at the mayor from both the left and the right. And then there's the education success myth; as we have been hammering home: "The third factor is the schools. Compelling evidence shows many of the gains Bloomberg touts are suspect because tests and standards were dumbed down. He has doubled education spending to $22 billion a year, but with 74 percent of city grads who enroll at City University community colleges still needing remediation, the smell of a scam is in the air."

Add on term limits and you have a potential witch's brew of issues that could take Mike Bloomberg down. But Billy's going to have to take the fight to him-he's not gonna be able to take the mayor out on points: "The hitch for Thompson is that swing voters he needs don’t yet see him as a real alternative. While his team believes a black, liberal Democrat in a minority-majority city starts with a voter base of 45 percent, he can’t win without peeling away some of the mayor’s soft support. To do that, Thompson needs to show more fire in the belly and appeal to a beleaguered middle class that increasingly finds a sour taste in the Big Apple. That means cutting spending so the pressure won’t be there to increase revenues through excessive fines, fees and taxes."

Taking the fight to Bloomberg means to us that Thompson needs to "Townhall" the mayor-and really get in his face, throw him off his game-rattle his overly cool and contrived demeanor so that the real Mike Bloomberg can be properly revealed. If Bill can do this, we just might see a real barn burner-and, yes, NYC would be the real beneficiary of this kind of contest.