Is public anger over term limits enough to beat Mike
Bloomberg? Polls say no, but city comptroller Bill Thompson
seems to think so.
This morning an energized and upbeat-sounding Thompson led
a cheering throng of some 200 union members and
representatives on the City Hall steps as he sought to
batter Mayor Bloomberg over his flip-flop on the city’s
term limits law a year ago this month.
The Democratic mayoral wannabe used his toughest words so
far, almost as if he was daring the mayor – who is
notoriously reluctant to discuss the issue – to respond.
Thompson used the rally, which appeared to get the most
media attention since primary night last month, to
shape the argument that he is relying upon as his strongest
cudgel against the mayor:
“One year ago I listened and watched as Mike Bloomberg
hijacked our democracy and overturned the law,” said the
two-term comptroller. “I took him at his word when he
said before that he would oppose any change in the
law, when he said that it would be an ‘absolute disgrace’
to do so. Then something changed. He started looking around
for a new job. When he realized he wasn’t going to be
President, or Vice President, he decided to overturn the
term limits law solely to pursue his own personal
On cue, the crowd, which had
earlier been chanting Thompson’s “Eight is enough” battle
cry, broke into a new chant: “Take a Hike, Mike!”
Thompson said Bloomberg “twisted arms” to get the
council votes to overturn the law. “He claims to be above
politics, but we know that what he did was the worst kind
of politics,” he said.
As the Times points out today, the challenger has yet to run traditional TV ads
introducing himself to voters. But he spoke only briefly about his own “new
vision,” criticizing the
mayor for saddling the middle class with fees and taxes.
Then he quickly returned to his theme: “Let’s make
November 3rd the referendum on term limits that Mike
Bloomberg refused to give us last year. . .Stand with me,”
he urged the crowd, “show Mike Bloomberg that he lied to us
once but he won’t have a chance to lie to us again.”
Bloomberg avoids talking about the term limits move as much
as possible, presumably in recognition of polls showing
that New Yorkers – while still favorable about the rest of
his record – are angrily resentful about the legislative maneuver. A
new biography of the mayor by veteran Times
reporter Joyce Purnick quotes Bloomberg supporters saying
that last fall’s economic crisis was a rationale, but not
the impetus for the mayor’s decision to run for office
Bloomberg is clearly concerned. The mayor, who is outspending Thomson at a clip of more than $15 for every $1 the comptroller spends, has been stepping up his own attacks, drenching the airwaves with ads criticizing his opponent’s record as former Board of Education president.
Look for Thompson to keep the term limits attack revved up next Tuesday night, when the candidates square off in their first debate at El Museo del Barrio in East Harlem.