The Bloomberg Era Is Over — Here's Everything You Need To Know To Follow The Race For NYC Mayor

new york city times square limoWho owns New York?

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After three terms starting in 2001, Michael Bloomberg is leaving his post as Mayor of New York City. He gave his last State of the City address at the Barclays centre in Brooklyn yesterday at noon.All of this means an epic race to Gracie Mansion (the Mayor’s residence on the Upper East Side that Bloomberg never lived in). Most of the politicians that have thrown their hats in the ring have been waiting patiently for this moment for years.

The general election will be held on the first Tuesday of November, with primaries over the summer as late as August.

Here’s who’s going to play:

  • Speaker of the City Council, Christine Quinn (Democrat)
  • Former City Controller, Bill Thompson (Democrat)
  • NYC Public Advocate, Bill de Blasio (Democrat)
  • City Controller, John Liu (Democrat)
  • Billionaire grocery store magnate, John Catsimatedes (Republican)
  • Former MTA head, Joe Lhota (Republican)
  • Former Bronx Borough President, Adolfo Carrion Jr. (no affiliation)

Don’t think for a moment, by the way, that just because NYC is a liberal town a Republican candidate can’t win this — that’s how Bloomberg and Giuliani both won their seats. 

That’s what makes this race so fascinating (aside from the fact that these candidates are fighting to lead the capital of world, of course).

Some of New York’s deepest pockets have already chosen sides, the king makers are shining up their crowns, the candidates are staffing up, and at this point it’s anyone’s game.

Gristedes founder, John Catsimatedes

Publisher Tom Allon

Who is he?: A former public school teacher turned publisher and CEO of Manhattan Media, a NYC media company that publishes small local papers. Small though they may be, however, they're must-reads for city politicians. He also started two NYC high schools, Eleanor Roosevelt High School on the Upper East Side and Frank McCourt High School on the Upper West Side.

What are his politics?: Allon is a Democrat turned Republican. His campaign is emphasising education, jobs, and government transparency.

What are his chances?: Not great. He lacks name recognition and both Catsimatedes and Joe Lhota will probably have more money than him. Still education was a Bloomberg weakness and his resume could look attractive to people who want reform.

Doe Fund founder George McDonald

Who is he?: The founder of the Doe Fund, a charity for NYC's homeless.

What are his politics?: McDonald's charity helps the homeless but he's known for saying that his organisation helps people who 'want a hand up, not a hand down' and he's a big fan of former Mayor Giuliani (another Republican). However, like Allon, McDonald switched his party affiliation to run on the Republican ticket.

What are his chances?: Not great. He lacks name recognition, a lot of big money is going elsewhere, and he's had some unflattering press in the past few years.

Like this (from Crain's):

McDonald started the Doe Fund in 1985. The nonprofit group provides transitional work, housing and education opportunities for people with histories of incarceration, homelessness and substance abuse, and receives millions in city contracts. McDonald says the charity has put $250 million into the pockets of workers over the years. In 2010, however, the Daily News reported that McDonald's wife and son were also pulling in about $200,000 each annually, while McDonald's take was around $500,000, including a $100,000 honorarium bestowed on the charity for its work.


Former MTA Head, Joe Lhota

Who is he?: The former head of the MTA and a former Giuliani administration bureaucrat. He's also had a brief stint at Goldman Sachs, where he raised money for municipal projects.

What are his politics?: Expect a pragmatic Bloomberg-esque Republican vibe here. He'll likely emphasise the city's budget and infrastructure, two areas he knows well.

What are his chances?: Lhota has a good chance of getting the Republican nomination but his lack of name recognition could hurt him after the primaries. He's respected for the way he handled Super Storm Sandy and some big NYC money, like billionaire Ken Langone and John Tisch. However, he doesn't have a ton of time to raise money and if he has to start deploying cash early, he may be in a tight spot.

He does have a great fundraiser working for him though, his wife Tamra. Tamara Hallisey, a former Giuliani fundraiser, is working with him too. Former Mayor Giuliani is backing him as well.

It may take some doing to convince the GOP powers that be, though. They may want to add diversity and more public sector experience to the ticket by backing former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion. Staten Island GOP big wig Guy Molinari has already jumped on the Carrion side saying that the Lhota camp didn't court him enough.

Former Bronx Borough President, Adolfo Carrion Jr.

Who is he?: Former public school teacher who entered politics and made it to the office of Bronx Borough President. He's also served as the head of the White House Office of Urban Affairs Policy and as a regional director of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

What are his politics?: A lifelong Democrat, Carrion renounced his affiliation with the party last year. He's pretty liberal, but he's shown that he can think outside the constraints of party and geography. Back in 2008, he sided against most of his fellow Bronx politicians and with Mayor Bloomberg in support of congestion pricing, a tax for cars going into the city from the outer boroughs.

What are his chances?: Carrion is the heavy favourite for getting the Independence party's nod. That's huge because it means he'll be able to run whether he gets the GOP nomination or not. Because he's not officially a Republican, he has to get the blessing of 3 out of the 5 Republican party bosses (one for each borough) to be on their ticket, and with Joe Lhota in the mix that could be tough.

City Council Speaker, Christine Quinn

Who is she?: The Speaker of the New York City Council, and the first openly gay one at that. Quinn represents big money neighborhoods too, the West Village and Chelsea.

What are her politics: Quinn is pretty liberal, but she's not the most liberal of the back. She supports unions, but to a point, for example. She's also worked with Bloomberg and is considered his woman on the council (most of the time).

What are her chances?: Good. Quinn has raised more money than anyone else, the city knows her, and New Yorkers like that she would be the first openly gay mayor. At one point, it was considered a given that Bloomberg would back her for Mayor, but either he's not so sure now or he's trying to distance himself from Quinn so she has a better chance without his legacy hanging over her. There is the little 2008 matter of the $17 million of council money she had been setting aside since 1999. According to the NY Post, she was putting the money in 'phantom organisations' so that she could dole it out to councilmen to curry favour when needed.

Former NYC Controller, Bill Thompson

Who is he?: Former Controller of NYC, and despite Bloomberg's massive funding advantage, Thompson lost to him narrowly in the 2009 Mayoral contest.

What are his politics?: Thompson is slightly to the left of Quinn. He supports more affordable housing, more aid for Sandy victims, and more funding for the NYPD.

What are his chances?: According the NY Daily News, Thompson raised over $1 million for his campaign during the last filing period. Not too shabby. If the Democratic primary turns into an anti-Bloomberg slugfest and he can nail Quinn, he's got a shot.

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio

Who is he?: A lifelong NYC politician. He started his career working for the David Dinkins Mayoral campaign in 1989 and moved on to become a Brooklyn City Councilman for an area containing some influential neighborhoods (Park Slope, for one). Now he serves as Public Advocate, essentially the people's voice to the City Council.

What are his politics?: He's probably the most liberal candidate in the field. He's worked against corporate spending in elections and for reform in education and New York's homeless. He's branding himself as an outer-borough candidate that can unite everyone.

What are his chances: de Blasio has some powerful allies, like former fireman turned Hollywood actor Steve Buschemi who ponied up $50,000 for his campaign last year. He also has a former Obama campaign staffer on his team. Still, he may be a little too lefty for New Yorkers.

Controller John Liu

Who is he?: The Controller of NYC and the first Asian American politician to hold a city-wide office.

What are his politics: Liu has had a visibly tense relationship with Mayor Bloomberg. He's for raising the minimum wage to $11.50, mandatory paid sick leave, tax cuts for small businesses, and he's against 'corporate welfare.'

What are his chances?: Not great. Liu's campaign has been rocked with scandal. In 2011 and 2012 both his his top fundraiser, Oliver Pan, and his former treasurer, Jenny Hou, were arrested for campaign financing fraud. His ex-press secretary Sharon Lee admitted to using improper fundraising methods. Wu's trial has been delayed because he's being treated for a psychiatric condition. Not what NYCers like to see. Kingmaker and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer said that he doesn't think Liu will succeed because of it.

Now for the King-Makers: The Independence Party

The Independence party matters because the person that gets their nod is on the ticket no matter what happens in the primaries. It looks like Carrion is the front runner for that one.

The Working Family's Party

The Working Families Party knows how to get bodies on the street and people on the phone, that's really important in these campaigns. It's a very liberal party.

Last time around the WFP backed Bill Thompson, and they might do it again. They never liked Bloomberg and Quinn may seem too close to him. The party also doesn't really back Republicans. That leaves Thompson as the most credible contender.

Then again, they just lauded Quinn for her work on getting corporate money out of politics. Meanwhile, there's also de Blasio who's viewpoints allow well with the WFP agenda.

So that's any Democrats endorsement.

Scott Stringer

The Manhattan Borough President pulled his hat out of the ring for Mayor, but before that he was getting some superstar attention. Scarlett Johnasson threw a fundraiser for him, for one.

Now Stringer is a lock for the next Controller, getting endorsements from everyone from Bronx State Senators and the AFL-CIO.

Congressman Jerry Nadler

Jerry Nadler ('The Godfather') has quietly gained a lot of power in NYC and lot of politicians look to him for advice.

In 2009 he endorsed Thompson. He was backing Scott Stringer but since Stringer dropped out, Nadler's up for grabs. Back in 2005 Nadler endorsed Quinn over de Blasio for Speaker of the City Council, so maybe he'll back her again for Mayor.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg

Whoever gets Bloomberg's endorsement gets his cash and his connections to some of the richest people in the world. He also has some of the best political minds in the city working for him now, and he could loan them out.

This time last year, Christine Quinn was the obvious successor to Bloomberg (none of the other Democrats have a chance) but reports that he asked Hillary Clinton to run for Mayor throw that into question.

Also, he asked Clinton before Joe Lhota officially threw his had in the ring. The Mayor lauded Lhota for his work during Super Storm Sandy and he is Bloomberg's kind of guy -- a pragmatic Republican with public and private sector experience. Some of New York's wealthiest are backing Lhota and Bloomberg may join them.

Then again, he may just trying to distance himself from Quinn and work for her quietly behind the scenes so that the Bloomberg bump doesn't become the Bloomberg hump.

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