Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Overwhelming Force
I just received a phone call from Mayor Bloomberg's re-election campaign. Caller ID registered it as "UNKNOWN CALLER," which most often means it's Annie calling from her work number, but not this time. When I answered, a real live person began to read his script about the Five-Borough Economic Plan and its wonderful job creation and sustainability components. At the end of this maybe thirty-second spiel, the caller asked if the mayor could definitely count on my vote in November's election.

I responded, "We'll see."

He then asked what was the number one issue I was concerned with in the city, at which point I said that I didn't really have time to talk (not true) and he wished me a great day and got off the phone. In retrospect, I should have answered "overturning term limits," which is by far my biggest potential reason for not voting to re-elect the mayor; as I think about it now, I'm dying to know what the script's response is to that complaint. (Given the extensive market research we know Bloomberg conducted in 2005 and presumably is utilizing again this year, I'm guessing that it goes something like this: anyone who complains about term limits is probably a reform-minded liberal, so the best counter-argument is that Bloomberg's independence and freedom from partisan constraints has been of great benefit to the city over the past eight years and will continue to stand us in good stead through the current difficult economy.)

But more to the point, I'm just blown away by the fact that, six months before the election and at a time when Bloomberg's approval ratings remain high and he doesn't even have a clear opponent, the campaign has phone bankers on the payroll calling registered voters. Then again, he's already spent millions on TV advertising that emphasizes the same Five-Borough Economic Plan--that phrase must have tested through the roof--so paying some schlubs $12 an hour to make phone calls doesn't represent an additional major expense.

For the record, I still consider myself undecided. The question remains whether a Bloomberg in his third term (historically a bad idea for New York incumbents), ever more convinced of his own infallibility but still independent by virtue of his unfathomable wealth, is preferable to a Democrat who probably lacks the mayor's managerial acumen and comes pre-corrupted by all the institutional forces that warp the miserable breed known as New York City Democratic politicians. At the moment, my answer is "probably," but I'm open to being convinced otherwise.

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