BY JUAN MANUEL BENÍTEZ
The election is seven months away, but Michael Bloomberg is already showing off his Spanish skills in his first television commercial of the 2009 campaign. It’s a very similar spot to the one he opened his campaign with in 2005. He has already spent more than three million dollars of his own pocket this year in his effort to stay four more years in office. He is ready to spend 80.
Why can he run for a third time? At his request, the New York City Council changed the term limits law last year to allow public elected officials to serve for a third term. The Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-Independent said that would give New Yorkers more choice, but so far, only two Democrats seem to dare challenge him.
One of them is not Congressman Anthony Weiner. He decided to take a step back last month and wait until the summer to make a final decision. That hasn’t stopped the Bloomberg campaign from calling people to test which attacks would work better against him. “Nasty politics,” says Weiner about this type of survey that people from his camp described to The New York Times as push-polling, a technique used to disseminate negative information about an opponent. The Times reports that people were asked whether their “views of Mr. Weiner would be altered if he or she knew of certain problems involving Mr. Weiner, from missing votes in Congress to having difficulty keeping staff to accepting campaign donations from foreign fashion models.”
One thing is clear: no matter how high his approval ratings are or the fact that most New Yorkers I’ve spoken to (many of them African American) think the job will still be his after November, Bloomberg is determined to take nothing for granted. Last week he got endorsements from labor groups and Black religious leaders, stepping into another candidate’s turf, New York City Comptroller Bill Thompson.
We don’t know if the Bloomberg campaign is testing attacks on Thompson. There might be no need. Few people know who he is anyway.