Skip to content, or skip to search.

Skip to content, or skip to search.

Term-Limited Ambition

Old New York pols never die; they only try to run for something else.


As Hillary, Barack, Mitt, John, and Mike battle their way through the primaries, back in New York, local politicians are scrambling to find offices to run for in 2009. Term limits mean there are lots of soon-to-be-out-of-work pols, and the city’s generous campaign-finance matching funds mean it’ll likely be the most expensive publicly financed campaign ever. Here, a quick guide to where our ambitious leaders want to go next year, and what they might do if they don’t get there.

Photo Illustrations by Dienstelle 75  

What he is: City councilman, Park Slope.
What he wants to be: City comptroller.
After two failed campaigns—he dropped out of the race for Brooklyn district attorney, and then, after moving into another district, lost a bid for Congress—he's bet it all on comptroller (even as two other council members, Melinda Katz and David Weprin, are running, too).
Backup: Think tank.

What he is: Bronx borough president.
What he wants to be: City comptroller. Other comptroller wannabes were unnerved that he’s not running for mayor; they fear his support among minority voters and fund-raising ability ($1.36 million in the bank). But can he convince voters that a pastor turned teacher turned urban planner is prepared to manage the city’s money?
Backup: A job in President Hillary’s HUD.

What he is: City councilman, Long Island City.
What he wants to be: Public advocate. He’s been able to raise impressive sums in small donations (nearly $1 million thus far), and has a knack for getting himself in the paper. Still, like most term-limited council members, nobody really knows who he is.
Backup: A D.C. gig, like he had during the first Clinton administration.

What he is: City comptroller.
What he wants to be: Mayor.
The city comptroller has out-raised everybody in the mayor’s race, collecting over $3 million already. Still, not too many people know who he is or what he’s about.
Backup: A cushy position as a lobbyist; taking golf lessons.

What she is: City Council speaker.
What she wants to be: Mayor.
Many think she’s been running to replace Bloomberg since she became speaker, shedding her reputation as an activist to join the donor-friendly Establishment. But what if Bloomberg endorses another candidate, like Police Commissioner Ray Kelly?
Backup: She ran a local nonprofit before she got into politics; why not take it national?

What he is: Manhattan borough president.
What he wants to be: Public advocate.
He’s been in the beep’s office for only two years, but he is already running out of options. If he doesn’t run for a higher office in ’09, he’ll likely have to face an incumbent when he’s term-limited out in 2013.
Backup: Start a nonprofit, then run for Jerry Nadler’s congressional seat when he retires.

Correction: In February 2005, David Yassky pulled out of the Brooklyn D.A.'s race before the election; the article has been corrected to reflect this fact.

Have good intel? Send tips to


Current Issue
Subscribe to New York

Give a Gift