Lopsided Mayoral Campaign Is Battle for the Ages

Mayor Goliath vs. Comptroller David?

Competence and credibility -- in the last few days, these have become major issues in the campaign for City Hall.

Mayor Bloomberg is saying his opponent, Comptroller Bill Thompson, mismanaged the city’s pension funds and took campaign contributions from investment managers who gave money to his campaign.

Thompson says Bloomberg has failed to report millions of dollars in contributions he made to his own campaign -- as required by law. Even though the Mayor is not participating in the campaign finance program, Thompson says, he’s required to report his campaign expenditures.

More and more the contest for mayor is taking on the look of the ancient battle between David and Goliath. Bloomberg, poised to spend as much as $200 million of his own money on this campaign, is the Goliath. And Thompson, who stands to be outspent by a margin of probably 10-to-1 or more, is trying to be David.

On the competence issue, Thompson insists he has managed the pension funds well. He says the Mayor has been manipulating statistics, that, by Thompson’s reckoning, he has brought the pension money to a high level.

The Bloomberg campaign’s attack dog, Howard Wolfson, points out that Thompson took contributions of more than $500,000 from investment managers who do business with the city -- just months before the city hired them to invest millions of the city’s money.

In the old days, all David needed was a slingshot to take on the fearsome giant. Mike Bloomberg, the modern day Goliath, surrounded by high paid advisers, seems ready to make mincemeat out of the challenger.

And maybe he will. In an age when money seems to rule in politics, it may seem likely. But candidates live on hope -- and Thompson isn’t giving up.

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