Friday, September 18, 2009

Thompson Adding Up?

Bill Thompson's first campaign ad is up, and according to the NY Times, the focus is on an attempt to contrast the wealthy Blombergistas versus the regular folks that Thompson is looking to champion: "But in a barbed swipe intended to stir partisan passions, the commercial closes with an obvious dig at Mr. Bloomberg, as a narrator declares: “After eight years of everything going to the rich and powerful, we need a mayor who cares about us. Bill Thompson. The Democrat.”

Will it have any resonance? That is certainly the question, since the Bloomberg campaign continues to spend like a drunken stockbroker-further highlighting, however, the disparity of resources. Perhaps Thompson will be able to use this disparity to dramatize his "Rich man, Poor man" argument. As expected, Bloomberg took umbrage at the depiction.

In a response, the mayor said: “The beneficiaries of all of the work we’ve done in the last eight years is the middle class, not the rich,” he said after his endorsement by the Building and Construction Trades Council of New York on Thursday. “It’s the middle class that had better schools for their kids, it’s the middle class that had safer streets where they live, it’s the middle class that has parks they can go to and streets that are safe and clean. It’s the middle class whose jobs we have created and housing we have created.”

Guess he forgot-went off message it seems-that the reason why we so desperately need the $15 billion man is to lift us out of the current economic crisis. There's something just a bit discordant of preening about how much you have done for the middle class while unemployment hits record levels in the city' Maybe we should give everyone in New York a boost by simply stopping all the middle class helping?

But uphill it is, and one of the biggest questions that remain is whether Thompson will be able to galvanize Democrats enough to allow his message to really accelerate his campaign. Certainly Speaker Quinn appears to be unmoved. As the NY Daily News reports: "City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said on Thursday she's confident she'll be reelected to her post next year - despite grumbling from members upset that she hasn't endorsed Controller William Thompson for mayor. "Barely a day and a half after the primary, I haven't made any decision on what I'm doing in either of the runoffs or in the mayor's race," said Quinn, arguably the city's most powerful Democrat."

She needs more time to decide? As the titular head of the party in NYC? That should tell you all you need to know about where Quinnberg stands, no? If the mayor does squeak by in November, we are really going to need a resilient legislative check on his power-since it is likely that he will continue to remain tone deaf to the concerns of small business and neighborhoods.

What we don't need is a mirror image mimic running the council-and aping the mayor's views so slavishly. The unknown here-aside from the name of any likely challenger-is whether the council as a whole will uncover the moxie to make the leadership challenge. The Thompson campaign's success in resonating with the voters will determine at the same time what kind of challenge emerges in the council. That synergy, we believe, is necessary-but perhaps not sufficient-for the leadership battle to get traction.

What we do know, however, is that with likely more strident voices at Advocate and Comptroller, a supine Speaker Quinn will, if re-elected, be unable to claim the mantle of Democratic leadership in four years-particularly since she would have to go through a Democratic primary if she is to be successful at becoming the party's nominee. But it may be that she sees a corporate future, and not a political one. Mike Bloomberg is, after all, nothing if not grateful to his friends.

So the race is really on and, as Eddie Castel tells the Times: "This is not just a guy who spent $50-plus million,” Eduardo Castell, Mr. Thompson’s campaign manager, told reporters, referring to Mr. Bloomberg. “This is a guy who’s a two-term incumbent, who’s in the news every single day, and his money is, as I said, the worst investment you can have right now — $50 million to have your poll numbers not move, and to have a huge chunk of the electorate still undecided. Those undecided voters are waiting for the alternative. That’s what we’re presenting.”

The next few weeks will begin to tell the tale-and with it, the indecision of Quinn will have to dissolve one way or the other. Will the upcoming contest be, well,m contested, or will it be a redux of the effort of the hapless meanderer Ferrer? We will see soon.