Gracious Words Exchanged as Billionaire Mayor Wins, Barely

By Gabe Pressman
|  Wednesday, Nov 4, 2009  |  Updated 8:03 AM EDT
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Gracious Words Exchanged as Billionaire Mayor Wins, Barely

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Mayor Bloomberg deserves congratulations on his victory over Bill Thompson.

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Mayor Bloomberg deserves congratulations on his victory over William Thompson.

But Bloomberg spent an obscene amount of money, estimated at $100 million, to defeat his Democratic opponent. He doesn’t deserve congratulations for that.

The mayor outspent Thompson by an estimated 16-to-1. It was not a level playing field. The billionaire mayor knows it -- and the people of New York know it. It was the most expensive, self-financed campaign in American history -- and the mayor is guilty of distorting the meaning of fair play and democracy.

If the mayor sees the light and decides to do something about it, he can go down in history as a reformer and not just a multi-billionaire who bought City Hall again. He could appoint a commission to devise a law or amendment to the City Charter that would, somehow, make future playing fields level.

Amazingly, Thompson actually came very close to defeating the incumbent. Clearly, the pollsters who predicted that the mayor would win by double digits were dead wrong. Showing once again that there is something flawed in the way journalists cover campaigns, and that polling techniques need improvement as much as our political system.

Thompson, as the mayor said, was gracious when he called Bloomberg to concede defeat. The outgoing city comptroller seemed proud as he addressed his supporters. By working with little money and only the will to succeed, by emphasizing the term limits issue, and by appealing to his base of Democratic New Yorkers, Thompson nearly snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.

The mayor was in turn gracious when, standing before a banner that read simply “Progress,” he thanked Thompson for his kind words.

“In all fairness he ran a spirited campaign and put up a tough fight,” said the mayor of Thompson.

Bloomberg promised that, in his new term, New York would climb out of the recession faster than any other city. He also pledged to outperform the rest of the country in areas of job creation, safety, and education.

Borrowing a classic line from the Jazz Era, the mayor told his supporters: “You ain’t seen nothing yet!”

Perhaps. We hope so. We wish him well.

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