New Yorkers who have fumed for a year over how Michael Bloomberg overturned term limits, and simultaneously overturned democracy in the city, should have reason to smile this morning.
No, the blinkered billionaire megalomaniac did not lose. But for a man who spent $100 million on his campaign—"a sum without equal in the history of municipal politics that gave him a 14-to-1 advantage in campaign spending," as the Times reported; and who had no strong opposition to speak of, he did not win in any way that the Bloomberg administration could call satisfactory, let along a mandate.
51% to 46%. After 12 months of non-stop campaigning, of spending tens of thousands of dollars a day, of sending out whole forests of mailings, Bloomberg could not make half the city like him or forgive him for his highhanded power grab. Thompson was not a strong candidate. He had no money. No one knew what he was about. He didn't articulate his positions well, or give you a reason to vote for him. Therefore, it's a safe assumption that at least one out of every two Thompson votes was not a vote for the comptroller, but a vote decidedly, angrily against Bloomberg. The Times reported that "exit polls indicated that 45 percent of voters said that Mr. Bloomberg’s handling of term limits was a factor in their decision not to vote for him."
Rest assured Bloomberg and his minions feel the rebuke. Remember, our mayor ran for a third term not just because he wished to retain his hold on power, but because he likes being universally acknowledged and loved as a great leader and forward thinker. He's craves attention and praise. But he's lost our love, now. Even his supporters are kind of "meh" about him now, if you've read the various news reports in recent weeks. Read this, today, from the Times:
Stav Brinbaum, 37, a Web producer from Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, described his own vote for the mayor as “unfortunate.”
“I feel he bought himself the election,” Mr. Brinbaum said, and “ran a smear campaign against a nonexistent opponent.” But, he added, “He’s doing a really good job.”
“If there were somebody stronger running against him, I would have happily voted for them,” said Paul Ranson, 56, a designer also from Prospect Heights. “But there’s not, so I unhappily voted for Bloomberg.”
Some support base!
As expected, the turnout will be among the lowest in New York history, the voters enthusiasm sapped by the unfairness of the election. The third term debacle (and it was a debacle, for us, for City Council, and, inevitably, for the mayor) has ruined Bloomberg's credibility, forever besmirched his reputation. He's the man who first rigged the election, and then bought the election—and didn't even do a very good job at that, since he had to run his campaign at full speed in order to squeak by. Now, he can be considered corrupt and weak.
It's going to be a grim, cheerless four years. But at least it won't be grim only for us.