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Michael Bloomberg News Roundup

  • Bloomberg participated in an event launching a “No Labels” movement in New York earlier in December. The Washington Post explained,

The group hopes to build a network of citizen activists and establish offices in all 435 congressional districts. Beginning in January, members plan to police the new Congress, calling out lawmakers they think are too partisan and speaking up for those who cross party lines to find solutions. The group says it will not advocate specific policy positions, but will aim to foster a more civil discourse in Washington.

It will form a political action committee to help defend moderate candidates of both parties against attack from the far right and the far left, said John Avlon, a founding member and one-time speechwriter for former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani (R).

“There’s this idea that somehow walking in lock step with a party is courageous,” Avlon said. “I think it’s conformity. . . . That’s the opposite of courageous. It’s cowardly.”

The group has raised about $1 million from seed donations, the founders said, with most organizers working as volunteers.

There were many big names at the event to kick it off. They included Independent Senator Joe Lieberman, Republican-turned-Independent Charlie Crist, retiring Senator Evan Bayh, pundit Joe Scarborough, former Representative Tom Davis, and Senator Kirsten Gilibrand. Frank Rich thinks some of these figures discredit the premise of the organization.

When the New York State Independence Party attempted to return money that prosecutors say was stolen from Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire mayor said: No thank you.

Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson confirmed Wednesday that Mr. Bloomberg rebuffed, at the request of Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance’s office, an effort to return a portion of the roughly $1.1 million that prosecutors claim was stolen.

“The Independence Party approached us with a suggestion of returning the money,” Mr. Wolfson said. “We contacted the district attorney who said it was their very strong preference that any monies be given over to them. And we conveyed that back to the Independence Party.”

In June, prosecutors accused John Haggerty, a Queens political operative who volunteered on the mayor’s 2009 campaign, of stealing money that the mayor sent to the New York State Independence Party for an Election Day ballot-security operation. Neither the party nor its officials have been charged with any criminal wrongdoing. Mr. Haggerty has pleaded not guilty.

Party Chairman Frank MacKay emphasizes that the offer was not an admission of guilt.

  • The rumors abounded in 2004 and 2008. 2012 will be no different. Bloomberg was found vehemently denying any plans to run for President on Meet The Press, declaring “No way, no how.”
  • David Freedlander in the New York Observer has a lengthy piece on why the Independent Mayor will not run for President: He has more authority in New York City than he ever would as President. The article explains,

A lot of this has to do with his enormous bank account. He is the only modern politician to come into office unencumbered by the normal political obligations that must be repaid. In 2005, Mr. Bloomberg got a primary challenge from a Republican party hack. His complaint? That the mayor had not given his fellow party officials the proper patronage jobs befitting the ballot line that they had bestowed upon him. In the process, Mr. Bloomberg has created a new political paradigm, not just here but around the nation, one that pooh-poohs party labels in favor of the fetishizing of what have come to be known as common-sense solutions. That post-partisanship that Barack Obama boasted of circa 2008? It owes its lineage to the 106th mayor of New York City.

His staff says that working with him is a novel experience. It is one of the few jobs in politics that eschews the grubby work of clubhouse deals and rubber chicken dinners. Aides are whisked around the world in his jet, or invited over to his Upper East Side townhouse (well, two townhouses, actually) for cocktail parties.

Who else but this mayor could pull off something so audacious as choosing an Upper East Side publishing executive to run the city’s school system, a system that he twice forced legislators to fully turn over to him? Who else but this mayor could upend a twice-enshrined term-limit law so that he could serve another term? In the normal conduct of politics, these are things simply not done. Yes, these moves have inspired complaints that the mayor is little more than a municipal dictator. But isn’t that something all executives aspire to, anyway?

You can count on one hand the number of times he hasn’t gotten his way over the past decade. The checks on the mayor’s political power—the City Council, his fellow citywide elected officials—can’t filibuster, and have been reduced to throwing spitballs at his lectern. Press conferences on the steps of City Hall may get airtime, but the mayor mostly breezes through them.

Jack Shafer at Slate makes a similar claim with a bit more of a negative slant.

  • Even though it seems Bloomberg won’t run, he would be in a strong position to compete for the presidency. A recent Clarus Research Group poll tested Bloomberg against his likely opponents.

In a three-way presidential race with Mitt Romney as the GOP candidate, President Obama posts a small 3-point lead over Romney, 39-36 percent. Running as an independent, Michael Bloomberg captures 13 percent of the vote with 12 percent undecided. “Twenty-percent of independents, 11 percent of Republicans and 8 percent of Democrats support Bloomberg, who does best in the Northeast where he gets 17 percent of the vote.”
In a three-way presidential race with Sarah Palin as the GOP candidate, Obama has an 11-point lead over Palin, 42-31 percent. Running as an independent, Bloomberg captures 18 percent of the vote with 9 percent undecided.
“In a three-way race with Palin as the Republican nominee, the GOP loses major support to an independent alternative,” said Faucheux. “Against Obama and Palin, Bloomberg gets 24 percent of Republicans, 10 percent of Democrats, and 22 percent of independents.”

Whether Bloomberg runs or not, expect him to use the buzz as a bully pulpit on the national stage.

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  1. d.eris d.eris December 24, 2010

    “Bloomberg hosted an event launching a “No Labels” movement in New York earlier in December.”

    This isn’t accurate, and makes it seem like Bloomberg was more involved than he was. The mayor participated in one panel discussion at the launch event, with Crist, Castle, Maldonado and a couple other people. But that was the extent of his participation at the conference. So far as I’m aware, anyway.

    I was actually able to swing by the event for a little while, and catch a bit of the discussion with Bloomberg. Honestly, he seemed to be somewhat skeptical of the group, or rather its mission, at one point saying that he’s not sure people support the things No Labels is calling for. On that score, he said something like, “people are always saying we should throw the bums out, but most incumbents are reelected.”

  2. Daniel Surman Daniel Surman December 23, 2010

    I said most powerful because he is in charge of the biggest city in the country and has a fair amount of authority in that post. Maybe most influential would be a better word.

    Personally, I am not a huge Bloomberg fan. I do think he is a pretty decent politician, regardless of my opinion of his policies. True, he has made a good many enemies with his approach to governance, but he has also been very effective at passing what he wants to pass.

  3. Kimberly Wilder Kimberly Wilder December 23, 2010

    I probably bend the policy myself…but I think it is pretty editorial to say “most powerful Mayor in America”. Also, having that as a summary looks like a kind of endorsement of the Mayor and/or his attempt to go nationwide.

    I don’t think Bloomberg is a good politician. His appointment of a private school mother with no school experience to be in charge of schools was pretty rude, elitist, and I guess oppressive. It was kind of like the old Reagan trick of appointing people to be Secretary of the Interior who did not believe there should be a Department of the Interior.

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