Spitzer thought he could count on Bloomberg as an ally because of their cultural bonds. “Eliot was always saying, ‘Mike and I speak the same language,’ ” a former Spitzer adviser says. “Rich-guy language, or something. Eliot felt as though he had a personal rapport with Bloomberg, but his political people always said, ‘Our interests are going to diverge, and he’s going to whack us when they do.’ And that was indeed the case.” Cuomo puts a lot less stock in personal bonding when it comes to politics. He remembers well that when Spitzer tried to trim state medical costs, the health-care industry and hospital unions launched a maudlin yet effective TV ad campaign. Spitzer tried to fight back with his own commercials, paid for out of his campaign account, but it was too little, too late. “Andrew’s cuts are going to make some pretty powerful enemies—CSEA, SEIU 1199, the city hospital unions, the same people who tanked Spitzer’s numbers,” one political strategist says. “To avoid that, Cuomo is asking people, externally, to put together a fund-raising operation to combat any attacks.” Even if Bloomberg himself doesn’t channel money to the Cuomo defense fund, a nod to his friends in the business community would certainly help the cause.
And then, with the budgets balanced and the state and city economies revving back to life, Bloomberg 2012 can be followed by Cuomo 2016. Hey, you never know, right?