Bloomberg's Loyal Cult: The Independence Party

Despite mayor's term-limits flip, Independence Party says all is forgiven

"What a difference a taste of power makes," she testified. "It is one thing to change your mind about an issue, it is another thing to betray the principles that inspired people to support you."

Pretty tough talk. In fact, term limits is supposed to be one of the cornerstones of Independence Party philosophy. It ranks as number two on the party's "Key Structural Electoral Reforms," right after same-day voter registration (the mayor is apparently still thinking about that one). The party's platform is even more explicit: Legislators should get just 12 years in office; executives, only eight.

Salit told reporters after Bloomberg left on Sunday that party members had pressed the mayor about his term limits flip-flop, but that they were satisfied with his explanation that it was a one-time thing. She said he also assured the party that, if re-elected, he will hold a referendum to reinstall term limits.

Asked if the mayor had pledged a specific amount of money to support the party this year, Salit was understandably coy. The mayor had assured them that "ample resources will be brought to bear," she said with a smile. In Bloomberg talk, this is always a seven-figure number. Back in 2003, the mayor spent $7 million on a losing referendum on the party's demand for nonpartisan elections.

That was all her and Newman's idea, Salit wrote in a 2007 memo on the party's website. She said that Newman and she had first put the nonpartisan-elections idea in Bloomberg's head back in 2001 during meetings at the townhouse leading up to their first endorsement. Still, she griped, Bloomberg didn't spend enough to win. He'd spent the entire $7 million on "a direct-mail campaign, though I had asked him to spend much more and to include funding for TV commercials and a ground operation." It was, Salit wrote, "a classic case of too little, too late."

These folks do not come cheap. Neither does the other political figure the mayor spent last week courting, the Reverend Al Sharpton. As Newman himself has acknowledged, back in the early '90s, he spent a lot of time grooming Sharpton's political talents. The Rev later went out on his own, leaving Newman's team smarting that he'd been ungrateful. Now, Mayor Bloomberg is bringing everybody back together under one big, happy political tent. Keep your eye out for lots of smooching on both cheeks.

trobbins@villagevoice.com

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