Mike Bloomberg Is The Eternal Mayor

How the mogul politician hatched his latest ploy to stay in play

Bloomberg had listened, nodding with feigned interest. Right, he thought to himself, just what I need. Everyone knows third terms are a curse. Ask Ed Koch. He still goes pale when he talks about his last four years in office, the scandals, the investigations. Bloomberg shuddered. With my luck, I win a third term as mayor and 10 more cranes collapse, along with the grade point average of every high school in the city.

But the more the businessmen talked, the more he listened. And then it hit him: Hey, schmuck, think about it. This doesn't have to be any more real than the whole presidential thing. It's just another way to stay in play. Instead of being shuffled out the door, you'll be center-stage again. Imagine the story lines: "The Man New York Can't Live Without," or "Too Good to Lose." Best of all, he could play the extend-term-limits game and still never have to commit to actually running again until next year. In the meantime, he'd know by December whether President Obama or President McCain had anything better for him to do. Not that he'd take any run-of-the-mill cabinet post. But White House economic czar? That could work. Kind of a new Bernard Baruch. But he'd have to play hard-to-get, show them he had alternatives. It was his first rule of good management: Never hire someone who needs the job.

"Well, how would the papers react?" said Bloomberg cautiously. "The last thing I need is to get hammered like I was when I tried to pass that nonpartisan-election nonsense."

"Not a problem," said Speyer. "Count on it. Hell, I bet Rupert will put you on the Post's front page every day, like he did for Koch in '82 when he got him to run for governor. And I've spoken to Mort Zuckerman. He loves the idea. He says he'll have his hitmen on the News editorial page rip to shreds anyone who gets in your way. Sulzberger won't say it outright, but talk to him. He's for it."

Bloomberg nodded. "Well, gentlemen, you are very persuasive. Let me sleep on it. I'll let you know." And he did. It felt almost as good as Salma Hayek.

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