Bill Thompson rushed to get the word out on Tuesday that he wasn’t running for senate, and that he was running for mayor four years from now. His 2013 declaration set such a record for premature expectation that NY1’s Roma Torre looked confounded throughout her interview with him that night, which was one of two or three that he did just as this week’s Voice cover story about him went up on our site. (The piece details just how beholden Thompson was to Bloomberg, who has funneled tens of millions of dollars to a questionable museum project by his wife, Elsie McCabe-Thompson. The story shows that, as Thompson moved closer to becoming Bloomberg’s preferred opponent in the race, the mayor dumped more and more money into the project, which should end speculation about why Thompson ran such a lackluster campaign in a race that turned out to be much more winnable than anyone assumed.)
“The logistics,” said the departing comptroller, “I haven’t worked out yet.” Was that ever an understatement! Like what will he do between now and his mayoral campaign? “Anything from, you know, private sector employment to things still staying in, being involved in the public sector, academia, as another, or as you point out, think tank, there are lots of options out there. Do I know which one? I don’t.” Or is he forming a campaign staff? “It’s very early to do that.” Or does he plan to try now to lock down endorsements? “I don’t think anybody’s gonna say, geez, let me endorse you right now, because everything, landscape changes and the future, who knows what the future holds?” Well said, so how does he know what the future holds for him?
Since Thompson’s bizarre announcement is unprecedented in modern citywide electoral history, and inconsistent with his own history in 2008 (when he said he would run in 2009, a more respectable interval), it’s safe to assume that some unusual event prompted it. Could it have been, we wonder, the imminent publication of our story, which literally happened while Thompson was jabbering away on NY1?
Having stirred the pot about a possible senate run in many media interviews since November, he obviously had to figure out when and where to withdraw from that race. First, he said he’d decide in December. Then he said January. All you have to do is look at the pushback in the last day or so about Harold Ford possibly entering the race to figure out that the Schumer/Gillibrand camp understood all along that Thompson wasn’t ever going to run for senate. No Gillibrand ally ever said a word about Thompson throughout nearly two months of his supposed possible candidacy.
Having milked all that exposure, Thompson wanted to make sure he got out of the race ahead of the mountain of allegations about him in our story this week, so he did it just as the story appeared. His office, his operatives and his wife were given a virtual point-by-point outline of the story in a hundred detailed questions over a month-long period.
Elsie McCabe-Thompson, whose museum is the focal point of the story, even answered some of the early questions, and said, through her spokeswoman, that she’d answer more if we delayed the story. Eddie Castell and Bill Lynch, two of Thompson’s top political aides, promised at one point that the Voice would get responses. All we got from Thompson was a statement that he’d recused himself as comptroller on all matters involving the museum, a defense that hurt more than it helped, since it turned out he’d taken several actions on behalf of the museum after he’d recused himself. Once Thompson figured out that his answers were only digging a deeper hole for him, he clamed up.
Then he beat the clock–albeit with the oddest political prophecy of recent time, a candidacy revealed just three days after an inaugural!