Mayor Bloomberg’s specter loomed over the City Council race in District 4, on the Upper East Side, as candidates Patrick Murphy and Dan Garodnick greeted passers-by Tuesday on the corner of 75th street and 3rd Avenue, just steps away from the voting booths in nearby P.S. 167. Signs festooning traffic-light posts shouted Bloomberg’s name in red block letters, with Murphy’s name printed beneath in blue. Garodnick’s signs wore rectangular stickers, with black and white text indicating that Garodnick had been endorsed by the New York Times; Fernando Ferrer’s name was nowhere in sight.
Murphy and Garodnick, both clad in dark suits and surrounded by a few aides, stood within 15 feet of each other on the same side of the street as they offered their hands and introduced themselves to potential voters. While civility came in spades, opinions did not: Neither candidate would speak to the press, so that they could devote themselves to their constituents.
On 68th Street between 3rd and Lexington, a campaign worker handing out flyers recited the words “Bloomberg Murphy” with every extension of his hand. By P.S. 167, a volunteer with the Murphy campaign conceded that linking Bloomberg and Murphy was calculated. “Yeah, it’s a conscious strategy,” he said.
And a wise one, apparently. Voters’ responses to questions about Murphy and Garodnick seemed to indicate that their focus was on the mayoral candidates, and not the race for Eva Moskowitz’s soon-to-be-vacant council seat. One elderly woman greeted by both Garodnick and Murphy said that she liked them both, but that she would probably vote for Murphy because of his affiliation with Bloomberg. “We don’t know much about Murphy,” she said. “But Bloomberg is familiar.” A middle-aged woman, who would identify herself only as Jennifer, said she had voted for Murphy despite not having much knowledge about him. “When I don’t know much, I vote Republican,” she said.
Even when asked specifically about the city council race, most voters were quick to offer opinions about the mayor. “I like Bloomberg because he’s a businessman, and the city needs to be run by a businessman,” said Herbert Berkeley, a retired lawyer from District 4, who said he had voted exclusively for Republicans. “Maybe I won’t be taxed as much.” Berkeley simultaneously defended the validity of partisan labels while showing a nuanced political outlook. “I like the fiscal conservatism,” he said when asked about what the Republican Party offered him. “But I like a woman’s right to do what she wants with her own body.”
While most of the people approached by the politicians and their campaign workers showed at least token politeness, some clearly didn’t want to be bothered. “Anybody who called me during dinner, I’m not voting for,” said one woman as she cleared a gauntlet of leaflet-bearing shills.