In a Blue Room press conference today, Michael Bloomberg announced that he has “directed my staff to work with” City Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s staff to craft a bill that will overthrow the terms limits that currently prohibit him from running again, and that “should the city council vote to amend term limits,” he will present himself as a candidate for Mayor in 2009, and then “it will be up to the people to decide, not me.”
Asked what party designation he would choose for his third run, Bloomberg said, “It’s much too early to tell.”
The Mayor referred repeatedly to the financial “crisis” and “loss of confidence” that had shaken the country and the city, and said that “as a businessman with expertise in business and finance, and as a mayor who has balanced budgets,” he was well-suited to lead New York in the coming days.
The Mayor said he was aware that voters had approved term limits twice before, and “altering their verdict is not something that should be done lightly.” But he said that as “the council is a democratically elected body,” they have standing to change the law.
“I still think term limits are a good thing,” the Mayor insisted, mentioning for some reason that Senator Harry Reid, to whom he had just spoken, is against them on principle. But Bloomberg said the difference between a two-term limit and a three-term limit “is a very different debate,” though he declined to state whether he wanted the city council to make that specific change, or whether this would be a one-shot change in the law made exclusively for the 2009 election.
Bloomberg also said he supported having a referendum on term limits, but it was too late to get one on the ballot in time to affect his electoral plans. He repeatedly brushed off suggestions that there was anything anti-democratic about the proposed change, insisting it was “just giving the people another choice.”
When asked why the financial crisis required such extraordinary electoral measures when 9/11 did not, Bloomberg said “in an economic sense it was relatively easy to pull together” after the attacks, and “the economy came out of September 11th stronger.” Today, however, he saw the problem as “a lack of conviction, a crisis of confidence. We didn’t have that after September 11th. People said, we’re not going to let the terrorists do this to us… now, there’s no clear answer as to how we’re going to work our way out of this.”
The Mayor also praised his own Administration’s achievements, and by way of example those of Richard Daley, who has been mayor of Chicago since 1989. “I don’t know how long he’s been in office,” said Bloomberg, “but it’s a long time.”