Any discussions about Republicans continuing to control New York City Hall may be premature. It is a battle between Joe Lhota (David) and Bill de Blasio (Goliath).
As of April, 2013 there are 4,352,113 active registered voters in New York City. This includes 2,974,321 Democrats, 470,552 Republicans, 733,481 Blanks (no declared party affiliation), 111,853 Independence, 20,040 Conservative, 14,532 Working Family, 6,106 Green and 1,226 other registered voters. Any Republican running for mayor of NYC in 2013 would need both name recognition and $20 million dollars to compensate for this overwhelming 6 to 1 Democrat to Republican registration deficit. A media buy of a million per week over the next seven weeks, several dozen direct mail pieces, phone banks and a door to door vote pull operation would be required to remain competitive. All of the above will have to be supplemented by millions more from independent Political Action Committees. This is needed to offset de Blasio’s potential millions in independent expenditures from various municipal labor unions.
Democratic Party mayoral primary winner NYC Public Advocate Bill de Blasio starts off the general election contest as the odds on favorite to win. All five losing candidates including former NYC Comptroller and 2009 Democratic mayoral candidate Bill Thompson, NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn, NYC Comptroller John Liu and former Congressmember Anthony Weiner and former NYC Councilmember and 2001 Democratic primary mayoral candidate Sal Albanese will forget any critical comments they made during the primary contest about Bill de Blasio. As loyal Democrats, they will quickly endorse the winning candidate.
Bloomberg barely won a third term in 2009 against Bill Thompson spending over $160 million to overcome a citywide five to one Democrat versus Republican voter registration advantage. Over the past four years, this enrollment gap has grown to a six to one Democrat versus Republican registration advantage. Lhota clearly has a fraction of the financial means of Bloomberg, making his race far more difficult.
Democrats occupy the offices of NYC comptroller, NYC public advocate, NYC council speaker, 47 of 51 NYC council seats, four of five borough president offices and four of five district attorney offices. Bloomberg’s narrow 2009 victory was assisted by numerous Democratic elected officials who crossed party lines to endorse Bloomberg or stay officially neutral. This time around Democrats are going to support one of their own to end the GOP’s 20-year control of City Hall. Remember to the victor belongs the spoils. All yearn for control of City Hall along with the political patronage and potential contracts.
Those who assisted Bloomberg in 2009 by actually endorsing fellow Democrat Bill Thompson for mayor and then sitting on their hands and going through the motions by nominally campaigning for him will not do the same in 2013 for Lhota. Bloomberg’s old friends long ago became strangers. They have no incentive to help him groom a successor.
Democrats will rally around their party’s nominee for mayor in 2013. They want a friend in City Hall when running for re-election in 2014 or 2016. Governor Andrew Cuomo, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, State Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins along with Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand will all be onboard. They will be joined by numerous other Democratic Party public officials including 59 State assemblymembers, 22 state senators and 12 congressmembers from NYC as well as virtually every municipal labor union. All will provide endorsements, financial support including either hosting fundraisers or making direct campaign contributions. They will collectively supply thousands of volunteers for phone banks and door to door get out the vote operations.
Bloomberg abandoned the Republican Party, whose ballot line he “rented” for convenience in winning a third term. He has continued his past track record of doing little to help finance and run serious Republican challengers against incumbent Democrats.
Bloomberg’s 2009 re-election strategy was deliberate in not spending any significant time campaigning or fundraising for GOP challengers. He didn’t want to increase turnout of registered Democrats or offend incumbent Democrat Party public officials. As a result, he has virtually no GOP allies in City Hall holding the offices of comptroller or public advocate.
In the 1990s, Republican Mayor Rudy Guiliani had a record seven Republican out of 51 NYC councilmembers. They included Mike Abel, Alfonse Stabile and Thomas Olgibene of Queens, Charles Millard and Andrew Eristoff of Manhattan, Martin Golden of Brooklyn and Fred Cerillo of Staten Island. They developed a working coalition with then Democratic NYC Council Speaker Peter Vallone Senior and more moderate Democratic councilmembers. Today, Mayor Bloomberg has only three Republican out of 51 NYC councilmembers. Current NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn and virtually all of today’s generation of Democratic councilmembers are far more liberal and anti-business. The only way Quinn has assisted Bloomberg in keeping more radical anti-business and other extreme legislation in check is to keep it bottled up in Council Committees. Quinn will not allow such legislation to move forward for a full vote among all 51 NYC councilmembers.
There are only a handful of GOP elected officials to assist any 2013 Republican mayoral candidate. Virtually all are from Staten Island. This predominantly middle class borough still remains competitive for Republicans despite a 2 to 1 Democrat to Republican voter registration advantage. Staten Island Democrats tend to be more moderate than those from the rest of NYC and are more likely to cross party lines to vote Republican. GOP Congressmember Michael Grimm (11th CD), State Senators Andrew Lanza (24th SD) and Marty Golden (22nd SD) along with Assemblymembers Nicole Malliatokis (60th AD) and Joseph Borelli (62nd AD) represent either Staten Island and/or Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. There is also Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro (a registered Conservative Party member cross endorsed by the GOP), District Attorney Dan Donovan along with NYC Council Minority leader James Oddo and Councilmember Vincent Ignizio from Staten Island along Councilmember Eric Ulrich from Queens. The rest of NYC is solidly represented by Democrats.
The last effective GOP challenger for NYC comptroller was businessperson Richard Bernstein, who ran with former Mayor Ed Koch in 1981. This also applies to former Brooklyn Democratic Assemblymember Jules Polenetsky who ran for Public Advocate with former Mayor Rudy Giuliani in 1997. The last Republican NYC Council President Sanford Garelick won in 1969. The last Republican comptroller was Joseph D. McGoldrick who served from 1938 to 1945.
The losing GOP mayoral wannabes should have drawn straws. They could have assisted Lhota by running for comptroller, public advocate or borough president. Businessman John Catsimatidis could have run a self-funded campaign for NYC comptroller. Either former Manhattan Media publisher Tom Allon or Doe Fund nonprofit Executive Director George McDonald could have run for public advocate. Republicans could have a real diverse city and borough wide group of candidates for the first time in decades. This would also help the handful of GOP competitive NYC council candidates in expanding their current four members to the old record of seven, who served with former Mayor Giuliani during the 1990s.
Crossover Democrats, who voted for Giuliani and Bloomberg continue to move out of town, retire out of state or succumb to old age. There has been no successful GOP outreach to Caribbean, Hispanic, Asian or other new immigrants along with middle class African-Americans.
Once the GOP loses any incumbent, they are rarely able to reclaim the district. Bloomberg may go down in the history books as the last Big Apple Republican mayor prior to his change in party enrollment to blank several years ago.