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Bloomberg party affiliation for 3rd term now anyone’s guess

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Most public discussion going on during the last several weeks about Mayor Michael Bloomberg's running for a third term centers on having the City Council pass legislation overturning term limits as it applies to the mayor and other elected city officials. These include the public advocate, comptroller, borough presidents and council members.

There is another aspect to this unusual situation, assuming the Council passes legislation allowing for a third term and the courts uphold it. That aspect is under what political party will Bloomberg run. Since he has changed his affiliation from Republican to independent, he must obtain the permission of the city Republican Executive Committee to run in a Republican Party primary if he chooses to do so.

So far, Republican John Catsamatidis shows every intention to run as the Republican candidate for mayor with Conservative Party endorsement. Both U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Forest Hills) and City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) have indicated their intention to run in the mayoral Democratic Party primary, with the winner running in the fall general election.

Bloomberg may not wish to run as a Republican next year, but as an independent, which means forming his own political party as a means of challenging the candidates of the two major parties. He would try to get the endorsement of at least one third party.

It is unlikely he would obtain the Conservative Party endorsement due to his liberal views on social issues. It will probably not be known until the mayoral campaign is underway as to whether the Independence and Working Families parties will choose to endorse Bloomberg for a third term or support a candidate from either major party.

City voters started electing mayors in 1834. When we look at past mayoral races when an independent challenged the two major party candidates, there is only one example of an independent beating both Republican and Democratic candidates. That was a special election in 1950, when acting Mayor Vincent Impellitteri scored an upset victory to defeat the Republican and Democratic candidates. Impellitteri, former Council president, became acting mayor when Mayor William O'Dwyer resigned after serving eight months of his second term.

As the news media sometimes refers to Bloomberg as "Bloomy," in 1950 they referred to Impellitteri as "Impy." In that year, he ran a campaign as an independent against the city political bosses. He called his political party the "Experience Party." In 1953, however, he was defeated for re-election by Robert Wagner Jr., who had the support of most of the city's political leaders. Impellitteri's defeat came in a Democratic primary.

Another example of an independent running against the two major parties was Mayor John Lindsay, who in 1969, running for re-election, lost the Republican primary and managed to win the general election that fall by running as an independent with the ballot endorsement of the state Liberal Party. He won re-election by a narrow margin, but did not choose to run for a third term.

It has been mentioned in the press recently that only three mayors during the 20th century have served three terms: Fiorello LaGuardia, Wagner and Ed Koch. Both Wagner and Koch were defeated in Democratic primaries when they sought a fourth term. LaGuardia chose not to run for a fourth term when he realized the Republican Party would not support him.

Bloomberg, despite his huge financial resources, is going against the trends of city mayoral elections. That is true if he decides to raise taxes for city residents next year. He has significant support from the general public, but there is resentment that he is choosing to change term limits through a Council vote rather than the people through a referendum, considering that the people voted twice to establish and maintain term limits for the office of mayor.

Bloomberg started out this year by almost running for president as an independent, but decided not to. It is unclear if he is considering running for governor in 2010. He has many hurdles to meet, however, before he can or will be elected to a third mayoral term.

Posted 6:40 pm, October 10, 2011
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