The news that Bob Kerrey is considering a run for mayor has rocked the New York political world like a freak 70-foot wave. But waves pass, and this one is starting to look more like a swell than a tsunami.
As the strategist for one Democrat already in the race told me Monday, “Kerrey is just noise.” Kerrey himself said in a tamping-down-the-speculation press release that “it is unlikely I will enter this race as a candidate,” with a final decision to come later this week.
Kerrey’s spokesman George Arzt tells the Voice that Kerrey first started thinking of running when he was offered the chairmanship of Democrats for Bloomberg on April 8, and started thinking about his disagreements with the mayor. Watching the estate-tax debate and filling out his own tax returns over the following weekend only reinforced his doubts about the mayor’s leadership, Arzt says.
By the middle of last week, there were rumors that a big-name Democrat was thinking of entering the race. But some versions of the gossip pointed to a different Bob—former treasury secretary and current Citigroup bigshot Robert Rubin, a guy whose name is always popping up in “Who will run for ______?” lists. The Times was able to figure out that it was Kerrey, and the buzzing began.
It’s fairly easy to size up the challenges Kerrey would face. He’s a fairly recent transplant to the city, hasn’t raised a dime, and has no local organization and no strong ties to any ethnic group or neighborhood.
Of course, none of that stopped Mike Bloomberg from running and winning.
However, other complications exist for the former senator. Kerrey’s statement on Monday, which said that he is “emphasizing my commitment and enthusiasm for my work at New School University,” is a reminder that, one, he recently inked a long-term contract with the school, and two, his tenure there has been marked by a bitter struggle with part-time faculty who wished to unionize. Unions pull a lot of weight in city politics, and it seems as if Kerrey can’t count on their pulling for him.