Democrats prepare to select a New York mayoral candidate
Whatever the outcome of the primaries, this year will mark the end of Michael Bloomberg’s 12 years in office. After engineering the overturn of term limits legislation in order to run for and narrowly win a third term in 2009, Bloomberg leaves office widely despised among workers throughout the city. The billionaire, now listed as the seventh wealthiest individual in the US, has a net worth of $27 billion. This compares to $5 billion before he first ran for mayor in 2001.
The candidates to succeed Bloomberg include seven Democrats and three Republicans.
Joseph Lhota, a former top official in the administration of Rudolph Giuliani in the 1990s and more recently the chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, is expected to win the Republican nomination. He will be the underdog in the general election, however, lacking the prominence and campaigning flair of Giuliani or the vast fortune of Bloomberg, who spent hundreds of millions of dollars, little more than pocket change for him, to win his three terms as mayor.
The main Democratic candidates include Christine Quinn, the current speaker of the City Council; Bill de Blasio, currently the public advocate; William Thompson, a former comptroller and also president of the city’s Board of Education; John Liu, the current comptroller; and Anthony Weiner, the former congressman who was forced to resign two years ago in a “sexting” scandal.
Quinn worked closely and harmoniously with Bloomberg for the better part of a decade. Until fairly recently she gave support to the hated stop-and-frisk policies of the mayor and his police commissioner Raymond Kelly, recently ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge. Quinn also played a key role in obtaining City Council approval for the overturning of term limits in 2009.
After leading in the polls for some months and despite her media endorsements, however, Quinn has apparently paid a price for her association with Bloomberg. She has been overtaken in the latest surveys by Public Advocate de Blasio. Sensing the depth of anger in the city, de Blasio has staked out a position on the “left” of the Democratic Party spectrum. He has suddenly discovered that New York is a “tale of two cities,” and denounces various policies associated with Bloomberg, including inequality, the lack of affordable housing and attacks on the public schools.
De Blasio says little on what he would do about these conditions, however. His record shows that he is a loyal servant of big business. He served in the second Clinton administration in the 1990s, the same one that dismantled welfare programs for the poor. He then went on to the position of campaign manager for Hillary Clinton in her successful campaign for Senator from New York state in 2000.
As for Thompson, the only African-American candidate in the race, he came within several percentage points of unseating Bloomberg in 2009, despite having run what was universally seen as a lackluster campaign. Thompson is a product of old-fashioned machine politics. His father, now 88 years old, was a local and state officeholder and later a judge. Thompson’s stance on the notorious stop-and-frisk policy has been muted in comparison to some of the other candidates.
The current campaign shows how the two-party system is used by the ruling class to keep the majority of the population politically disenfranchised. Tactical maneuvers and disputes between the candidates and the parties are employed to frame the issues and ensure that the only real debate that takes place is over how best to defend the capitalist status quo.
Voice of Russia, Wall Street Journal