For twenty years Republican mayors called the shots in New York, for the last twelve a pro-choice, pro-LGBT, environmentalist and pro-health mayor, a strange combination for a Republican in the era of the Tea Party. While New Yorkers tired of Mayor Bloomberg during his third term, aside from his education policies he had favorable ratings among New Yorkers. Bike lanes and parks circle and crisscross Manhattan, crime rates have plunged, visitors from around the world spend their dollars and immigrants from across the nation and the world flock to the Apple.
In the big picture New York thrived, in spite of 9/11 and in spite of the 2008 national economic meltdown, high-rise luxury building after building filled the skyline around Manhattan and Brooklyn, high end restaurants proliferated, wine bars charging sixteen dollars for a glass of cabernet with smokers puffing away in the smoking section, the streets outside of the bars.
Across the East and Harlem Rivers the economic gap widened, unemployment rates remained high, the city was moving in different directions.
New York City is “managed” by a combination of real estate developers, bankers, hedge fund managers, political elites, the same types who always run cities. One of our most famous citizens, Alexander Hamilton, an immigrant from the island of Nevis, from a single parent household, married Elizabeth Schuyler, from the Rensselaer family, “one of the richest and most politically influential families in the state of New York.”
In the Harvard Club or during breakfasts at the Regency or the Mandarin Oriental plans are being hatched.
In the spring of 2013 seven Democrats battled for the slot on the ballot, the Republicans battled among themselves, without a viable candidate. The elites, the power brokers were not unhappy, Christine Quinn and Bill Thompson; the two leading contenders were middle of the road democrats, not too far from the core of the Bloomberg ethos.
When the dust cleared Bill de Blasio motivated voters across the city – his “A Tale of Two Cities” campaign, his anti-stop and frisk rhetoric grabbed the attention of New Yorkers, well, enough New Yorkers.
de Blasio won the Democratic primary with 40% of the primary vote: 256,000 votes out of about 3 million registered Democrats; less than 10% of the registered Democrats voted for de Blasio. In the November election only 24% of all registered voters came to the polls.
The campaign for 2017 has begun.
de Blasio is simply too far to the left for the power brokers.
While his policies may reflect the views of most New Yorkers: more affordable housing, protecting rent control, raising the minimum wage, appointing pro-tenant members to the rent guideline board, and on and on, it may not translate into re-election. Melissa Mark-Viverito, the leader of the City Council is even further to the left – the City Council is dominated by the Progressive Caucus.
The de Blasio administration threatens the domain of entrenched old guard.
Campaigns never start too early and the 2017 campaign has began: Eva Moskowitz funded TV ads smacking de Blasio over his reversal of three charter school co-location decisions effecting only 194 students. The TV commercials were ready to go before the de Blasio decision was made!
Eva may be the perfect candidate.
New York City has never had a female mayor and 60% of voters are female.
She will be richly funded.
She is creating a voter base of charter school parents and wannabe charter school parents, primarily parents of color.
She is smart and aggressive.
Her supporters have four years to tear down de Blasio and four years to build up Eva’s resume.
About two years or so down the road Eva will leave the leadership of the Success charter school network and move on to another job to prepare for her run.
The NY Post will be relentless, slamming away at de Blasio every chance they get, the Wall Street Journal will join in on the editorial side. The Manhattan Institute has already begun the attack on the mayor. See Heather McDonald here and a sharp criticism of pre-k here.
In Albany the Republicans are in New York City attack mode, they passed a bill to undue Mayor de Blasio’s co-location reversals, in effect, reversing elements of mayoral control.
Parents from around the state are outraged by the impact of the Common Core State Exams and they have expressed their anger by encouraging candidates to oppose the four Regents up for re-election. The legislature ignored the parents, replaced one of the Regents with a candidate who had never applied for the position with an embarrassing lack of qualifications. Until parents can convert outrage to power at the polls they are not “players.”
Jerry Skurnik runs PrimeNY , the premier provider of election data: lists of prime voters, by district, by gender, by race, voting patterns, new voters, all the data needed to design a campaign. In the September 10, 2013 Democratic Primary election the teachers union endorsed Bill Thompson, spent significant dollars, made very attempt to bring the troops to the polls, and were not successful.
Bloomberg, virtually unknown in 2001 opted out of the NYC Campaign Finance system and spent many tens of millions of his own dollars; he repeated the efforts in 2005 and 2009.
Dollars determine elections, foot soldiers are nice, helpful, and nothing beats dollars.
Public school parents have yet to prove that they can influence the outcome of an election.
Teachers and public school parents will sneer – Eva Moskowitz can never get elected, au contraire, a well-funded, well run campaign can burnish any reputation, the TV ads of the last few weeks has shown what dollars can do. Governor Cuomo has suddenly become a fan of charter schools, the Senate Republicans, with Democratic support have jumped on the charter school band wagon. For the sans culottes, thousands of charter school kids have been driven onto the streets – in reality, 194 kids will have to either attend local schools or the charter school will have to rent space.
Dollars change minds.
de Blasio has two or three years to recover from his stumbling first few months, the battle is on … will de Blasio continue his “Tale of Two Cities” course, fighting to align the needs of the rich with the wants of the larger New York? Will de Blasio moderate and make peace with the power brokers?
The 2017 campaign is on, and, the big boys play for keeps.