SORRY DOMINIC: ANTHONY WEINER IS THE EARLY FAVORITE TO BE THE NEXT MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY (NOT BILL THOMPSON).
Usually, when I disagree with one of my fellow writers on Room Eight New York Politics, I would simply go to the thread of the article and express my disagreement; but I couldn’t do that last week since the thread was closed off for comments in Dominic Carter’s last column. Carter wrote an article suggesting that Bill Thompson (former Comptroller of NYC) is the potential frontrunner to become the next mayor of this city. He believes that it is Thompson’s race to lose. Dominic Carter is way off base and way too early with his analysis. I don’t even think Thomson will be a candidate when the time comes; but we shall see.
I know it is very early in the race, but there are a few obvious candidates that we could easily speculate on. This is the list I am working with: Congressman Anthony Weiner, Public Advocate Bill DiBlasio, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz (a real sleeper here), Comptroller John Liu and Speaker Christine Quinn. Currently, this is the “big five”so to speak; especially since they are all office holders, and will most likely be holding their offices for the next three and a half years. Bill Thompson is not an officeholder, and although this doesn’t disqualify him from mounting a credible race, it will be a major handicap over the next three years. A study of NYC’s mayoral history will show that candidates who are out of high office are usually at a disadvantage in the run up to the primary, when compared to those holding high office. Ask Mario Cuomo about this when next you see him.
Elected officials get consistent and perpetual news coverage from mainstream media: unelecteds don’t. They also get invitations to key events which enhance their exposure. Furthermore, they will get crucial support from union heads and the big fundraisers. Unless Billy Thompson starts chasing ambulances all over the five boroughs, he will be the invisible candidate (media wise). He will also have a hard time raising funds within his black base: since black folks aren’t the best givers (to politicians) folks.
Over the years Thompson has never displayed a propensity for chasing the media spotlight during high profile racial incidents; nor has he demonstrated a passion for confronting police-abuse issues. He is ostensibly a decent chap, but he was never an exciting candidate. I know many things he can do over this time that could get him to make up some of the handicap, but then he isn’t the most gifted orator, nor is he the most passionate articulator of pressing civic issues. He is a bright guy; smart, qualified and experienced; but he isn’t the most charismatic. He will need a personality transplant -now that he is out of office- to snatch media time from the five others I have mentioned above. He will have to really energize his base to even get into the ball park here. For many many reasons -which I won’t share right now- I just don’t see this happening. Plus, the black voter base (as a share of the primary turnout) is slowly dwindling; and has been since David Dinkins got elected.
Sure enough, Billy Thompson can maintain the cerebral perch that he usually (and with relative success) tries to stand on, by coming up (and out) with position papers on burning issues; and by brining innovative ideas (as remedies) to the table. There are many needed reforms in contemporary federal, state and city/local government: this much we all know. And all this is compounded even more by the recession we face. If Billy Thompson is to be the mayor of NYC then he has to intellectually shine for the next three years. I am not saying that he can’t: I am just saying that I don’t think he will. He will have to articulate plausible solutions for the myriad problems facing this city in a rather short space of time; and given that he held high elected office here before, his policy-positions will probably be looked at with suspicion.
Early last year, when I wrote that Thompson could upset Bloomberg in the mayoral race, there were many who thought I was still smoking that Jamaican “cheeba”. What I had picked up from canvassing during my unsuccessful city-council run was that a significant number of voters were angry at Bloomberg for hijacking the term limits law; just as I had suspected -going way back to my testimony against said hijack, during the council hearings. Bloomberg was very vulnerable because of this issue, but he tried to play it off by blitzing all media (conventional mainstream/local/unconventional/et al) with prolific ads costing millions upon millions: in fact he spent a record 100 million plus on buying this election. It intimidated the hell out of many people, including democrats in the White House. It also created in many soft minds: an aura of invincibility. It was nothing but smoke and mirrors. I saw it from way over the Jersey border.
It was one reason why I wrote columns admonishing Anthony Wiener to run. To me, “Tony” is the most exciting of the many political individuals in New York. In this regard, he is right up there with Hilary Clinton, Charles Barron and Al Sharpton: and he has many less flaws than these three. Plus, he also makes sense near every time he opens his mouth. I remember writing that Tony will have no one but himself to blame when he wakes up to find he is not the mayor of this naked city on New Year’s Day. Does anyone really doubt now that Wiener could have beaten Bloomberg? Especially after seeing Thompsons numbers from election night. Tony read it wrong from Jump Street. That’s why I asked him (at CBID forum last spring) who his advisors were: I suspect he is s a friggin one man band (which could eventually cost him big time).
During the recent health-care reform debate, Tony distinguished himself via the many media outlets that exposed him to the world. His performances there -and also on the House floor- was nothing short of remarkable. His mayoral stock has seen a mercurial rise. He was a talented ambassador for the Obama administration’s reform goals. They know it. They owe him.
Tony is a far superior candidate to any of the other (potential) mayoral candidates at this time. This is his race to lose. I am not saying that he doesn’t have a few areas to cover up (like the minority vote, and minority outreach), but he starts ways ahead of the pact relative to name recognition and credibility for the position. Plus, he ran citywide before (for this very post) and came in a credible second to Fernando Ferrer -in the 2005 Dem primary. He has a lot of votes already locked in. He is also the most articulate in this bunch.
Anthony Wiener will be a formidable candidate in this mayoral race (if he chooses to enter). Sorry Dominic: you are way off base bro. Vamos a ver!
Stay tuned-in folks.