One of this town’s great political love stories is about to have a re-run. And like Taylor and Burton, and Madonna and Guy, it’s bound to be even steamier the second time around .
Mike Bloomberg and Independence Party guru Fred Newman are trying to patch things up, the Times reports this morning, and this time it’s Bloomberg in hot pursuit. The mayor, who desperately needs a political line or two to run on this fall, dispatched his campaign manager, Bradley Tusk, to visit Newman and fellow Independence Party guru, Jackie Salit, at the Bank Street townhouse they share with numerous other devoted followers.
Newman is the somewhat quacky psychotherapist and playwright who has long presided over one of New York’s wierder lefty political cults. It’s a long zany story (see Dennis King’s all-purpose site for details) but the former Lyndon LaRouche chum hit the political jackpot when he used his many loyal troops years ago to take over the city’s Independence Party, thus giving him something every politician, right or left, covets — an extra political line on the ballot.
Back in 2001, when a would-be pol named Mike Bloomberg was looking to launch his first mayoral race, ex-state senate leader Joe Bruno played matchmaker when he helped fix up the billionaire media mogul with Dr. Fred and company. It was political love at first sight. Newman, whose Marxist tent is big enough to accommodate everyone from Patrick Buchanan to Louis Farrakhan, was delighted to have a billionaire owe him a few favors. Bloomberg, a Democrat-turned-Republican, was ecstatic to have his name on a ticket called Independence, even if leaders like Lenora Fulani had a tendency to say some pretty wacky things.
Once elected, the mayor gave Newman’s All Stars organization a nice tax-exempt bond for its West Side headquarters, and insisted that his top aides give Fred and Company a hearing on their interesting educational ideas.
Even though he stayed on the Independence line for his 2005 reelection campaign, Bloomberg started to distance himself as stories in the Times, the Voice and by NY1 ‘s Rita Nissan made his alliance with Newman slightly embarrassing for a would-be adult and avowedly mainstream politician.
But having ditched his Republican membership in a failed bid to stir interest as an independent presidential candidate, Bloomberg now finds himself single and back in the dating game. Like every used and abused ex, Dr. Fred is insisting on a little courting before he jumps back in bed again with the two-timing Mayor. “He regarded us as a group of people he needed, could use, and then he could walk away from,” Newman sniffed to the Times‘ Michael Barbaro.
Memo to Mayor Mike: A nice heartfelt note might do the trick. You could blame deputy mayor for politics Kevin Sheekey for the breakup, even steal a line or two from Heloise’s great love letter to Abelard: “That supreme act of flagrant treachery robbed me of my very self in robbing me of you.” Plus flowers, of course. Photo (cc) Azi Paybarah.