Money Talks in Politics

Battle of the billionaires in fight over term limits

You working-class stiffs can sit this one out. Term limits is a debate for the big boys.

Term limits were introduced in New York and rammed through as a ballot initiative by billionaire Ron Lauder, miffed that he'd been shunned by New York's political establishment. The issue has arisen again now that Mayor Michael Bloomberg--the city's richest resident, who got himself elected at a price of about $100 a vote--is considering staying on for a third term.

It's hard to be heard over the roar of cascading dollars, however, so people pushing back against Bloomberg's coup de City Hall  are employing their own monied interests in the fight. "The best way to deal with a billionaire is to get another billionaire!" City Council member Laetitia James told the New York Post. Fiorella Laguardia's ghost probably moaned audibly in the passageways of City Hall in response.

James was referring to Tom Golisano, the Rochester billionaire who is funding a bid to stop Bloomberg from buying a term extension. Another mayoral hopeful is John Catsamitidis, billionaire owner of the Gristedes grocery chain.

Is there any private citizen running for mayor who's not a billionaire? Possibly, but we haven't heard from their woefully underfunded press campaigns yet.

Other pols have chimed in though. Councilman Anthony Weiner would love to replace Mayor Bloomberg and urged New Yorkers to oppose any overturn of term limits. City comptroller Bill Thompson recently accused Bloomberg of extorting council members to remove term limits by threatening to cut personal perks of office.

Contact Us