Wednesday, January 28, 2009

How Does Bloomberg Plan to Win?

Today WAYLA reports on local politics from New York City.

The mayoral race in the Big Apple is heating up. Incumbent Michael Bloomberg has hired several Democratic consultants and strategists for his re-election bid this year.

Not only will this help his campaign terms of strategy and effectiveness, but it is also taking these consultants off the market for his two challengers - Rep. Anthony Weiner and City Comptroller Bill Thompson.

Political professionals he has hired so far include:

Bradley Tusk: Now installed as the mayor's campaign manager, he worked as a spokesman for Chuck Schumer and then became a top aide to the mayor during the first Bloomberg term.

Howard Wolfson: Another distinguished Schumer alumnus, his Democratic credentials are impeccable: Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, New York's Democratic Party.

Josh Isay: He's yet another Schumer guy, and a founding partner of Knickerbocker SKD and partner at Squier Knapp Dunn Communications, which did print, radio and television ads for Bloomberg's 2005 mayoral campaign.

Basil Smikle: Just a few months ago, this former Hillary Clinton aide was working for Mr. Weiner. Now, the AP reports, he's signed on with the incumbent.

Hank Sheinkopf: The colorful and unflinching operative who was the general consultant on Bill Thompson's 2001 citywide campaign for comptroller is not signing on for Mr. Thompson's 2009 mayoral campaign. Now he's on the mayor's campaign payroll.

Doug Schoen: A founding partner in the firm that helped define its most famous client, Bill Clinton, Mr. Schoen has worked on both of Mr. Bloomberg's previous campaigns.

Ken Strasma: A number cruncher who worked on Barack Obama's presidential campaign, he will focus on analyzing poll numbers and targeting a message to a niche audience.

Maura Keaney: A top aide to City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, she did field operations for the mayor's reelection campaign in 2005 and is returning this year in a similar role. Ms. Keaney is married to Democratic consultant Mark Guma, who worked on the mayoral campaign of Alan Hevesi in 2001.

Patrick Brennan: He's a former staffer in the Community Assistance Unit who traveled to various states to lay the groundwork for Mr. Bloomberg's much-discussed hypothetical presidential race. He left City Hall to work at the Parkside Group.

Larry Scott Blackmon: He just left his job as chief of staff and deputy commissioner for intergovernmental affairs at the city's Small Business Services Department to lead the campaign's outreach to black voters.

Neil Giacobbi: A former chief of staff to Democratic City Councilman David Yassky of Brooklyn and aide to Deputy Mayor Kevin Sheekey, Mr. Giacobbi, 35, helped organize the Republican National Convention in 2004.

Micah Lasher: He's not yet 30, but Mr. Lasher is among the most capable political operators in the city. He worked for Mark Green's mayoral campaign in 2001 and worked until 2007 with Mr. Isay at Knickerbocker. He just left his most recent job, as an aide to Representative Jerry Nadler, to work for the city's Department of Education. Which would seem to rule out a role on any Democratic mayoral campaign against his new boss.

Mayor Bloomberg has one advantage over the other candidates in buying up consultants and operatives: a virtually unlimited amount of cash. The billionaire mayor spent tens of millions of dollars on his last campaign, and is expected to spend plenty again this time around.

"He could just about put every consultant in the country on retainer," said consultant Jerry Skurnik.

But there is more. Ever since Bloomberg pushed for abolishing term limits last year - and signing a City Council bill to do so in November - he has been allowed to enjoy the power of incumbency. A new Quinnipiac poll shows the mayor has a 15% advantage over both of his opponents.

"Term limits? We love them and we want them back - after we re-elect Bloomberg," is how Quinnipiac pollster Mickey Carroll interpreted the numbers.

In fact, challengers city-wide (especially in the Bronx and Brooklyn) have been trying to use the term-limit issue to attack their opponents who would otherwise be leaving office. Because they did not expect to be challengers, many of these candidates are having unforeseen difficulty with their campaigns due to the changed layout of the city elections scene. But so far this argument is not working.

Weiner and Thompson are no different.

So Bloomberg is planning to win on two fronts: riding on his popularity (which overcomes concerns about term-limits) and buying up as many political consultants and operatives as he can - not just to assemble a crack team for his re-election, but to keep them from working for the opposition.

No comments: