In New York City's 2013 Campaign, It's Not About Who You Love -- It's Who You Can't Stand

Eliot Spitzer tear crying

Ex-governor Eliot Spitzer (D) has his first union endorsement in his race for New York City Comptroller.
Azi Paybrah of Capital New York thinks the endorsement is about a double layer of spite: the Civil Service Employees Association hates Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), and Cuomo and Spitzer hate each other.

This is the dominant theme in the 2013 races for both Mayor and Comptroller of New York City. People aren’t backing the candidates they like. They’re backing the opponents of the candidates they hate.

A few weeks back, I wrote about the forces mobilizing behind Spitzer’s opponent in the Comptroller race, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer (D). They’re driven not by Stringer’s awesomeness but by the various reasons they hate Spitzer: bankers are mad about his Wall Street investigations, health care workers are mad about his Medicaid reform initiative as governor, the teachers’ union is mad about his efforts to expand charter schools, etc.

In the mayoral race, the business and real estate interests that love Mayor Mike Bloomberg (I) have lined up with Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D). But they don’t actually like her so much as they are terrified of what might happen if a true-believing lefty like Public Advocate Bill de Blasio (D) becomes mayor.

Meanwhile De Blasio has accused his primary opponents, especially Quinn, of “aiding and abetting” the mayor, as though they were engaged in some criminal enterprise. That line works because his supporters are animated by their dislike of Bloomberg, and they resent Quinn for working so closely with him.

Ex-Comptroller Bill Thompson (D)’s main electoral strength is that few people have a really good reason to hate him. That’s why my money is on him to win the race: in an election defined by spite, the candidate least likely to be on the receiving end of spite is the frontrunner.

If all that depresses you (and it should) you can at least look to one bright spot of agreement: Everybody hates Anthony Weiner.

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