The post-election Campaign Finance Board filings are in, and as the dailies reported today, they reveal that Mayor Michael Bloomberg spent even more to get re-elected than he did to win in 2001—$77.8 million. The hundreds of other candidates for mayor, public advocate, comptroller, and the 51 city council seats spent a combined $55.6 million. Interestingly, if Bloomberg had not run this time, total campaign spending in all the races across the city would have fallen by $35 million from 2001.
Which is not to say there wasn’t some serious spending in those other races. The crowded field for Manhattan borough president unloaded just over $9 million, with three of the candidates who lost the Democratic primary—Adriano Espaillat, Brian Ellner, and Eva Moskowitz—dropping more than a million bucks each. The Manhattan Beep contest outspent the combined declared outlays in the other four beep races by almost three to one. Public Advocate candidate Andrew Rasiej dumped more than a million to come in fourth with 19,000 votes.
The race for Margarita Lopez’s Lower East Side council seat, in which Lopez aide Rosie Mendez prevailed, appears to have been the costliest of the season, with $923,000 spent. The other top five races were for Moskowitz’s East Side seat, the East Bronx contest to succeed Madeline Provenzano, the bid for Gifford Miller’s UES slot, and the tough fight for Philip Reed’s Harlem district. The cheapest race seems to have been the re-election victory by Maria del Carmen Arroyo, where she was the lone candidate to disclose expenditures, and there were only $20,000 of them.
The overall decrease in non-Bloomberg spending is likely due to the fact that there was no run-off for mayor or public advocate this year, as there was four years ago, nor a competitive race for comptroller. In addition, 2001 saw a rush of talented candidates wrestling over council seats newly opened by the term limits law; this time around, most of those seats were held by incumbents who were deemed safe from challenge. Overall, spending on council races dropped by $10 million, the comptroller candidates spent about a third of the 2001 total, and the race for advocate was less than half as costly as it was four years ago.
So unlike food, beer, or a ride on the subway, the cost of campaigning isn’t going up—except for incumbent mayors.