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Unpopularity Contest

Bloomberg’s reelection-team leader talks turkey about the mayor many voters still don’t want to have Thanksgiving with.

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Kevin Sheekey was the mayor’s point man for the convention (though he’s a lifelong Dem) and is now running his reelection team, which will include Bill Cunningham, Doug Schoen, and David Garth. Greg Sargent spoke to him about the race.

When Rudy ran for reelection, he was doing much better in the polls.
Rudy had a much simpler story to tell. He had succeeded at a signature issue: crime. Bloomberg has taken on multiple issues—crime, schools, economic development—with great success.

So why is he unpopular?
A lot of people felt they had a stake in Rudy’s success. There aren’t a lot of people who feel they have a stake in Bloomberg’s success.

Why not?
You’ve probably never seen a mayor’s office more devoid of a political operation, which by nature would make constituent groups feel like they’re part of the process. Plus, there’s a great disconnect between his actual accomplishments and what he’s given credit for.

Isn’t the problem that people don’t like the mayor, and thus don’t want to give him credit?
People didn’t want to have Thanksgiving dinner with Giuliani any more than with Bloomberg. People don’t need to like the mayor. They just need to know that he’s fighting for them.

Why is Freddy Ferrer leading Bloomberg in the polls?
Bloomberg has made tough decisions day in and day out. Ferrer’s done nothing for three years. There’s no reason not to like Ferrer.

Some opponents say Bloomberg is too Manhattan-centric.
There are building booms in Queens and the Bronx. A sports team is coming to Brooklyn.

Speaking of stadiums, the Jets’ one is a political liability, no?
It’s a divisive issue.

Anthony Weiner has blasted the mayor for hosting the convention, then failing to get cash from D.C.
Bloomberg has been more effective in bringing money home than the congressmen who criticize him, even though it’s their job, not his, to do it.

So, what’s the mayor’s core reelect message?
This mayor has done what he said he’d do—bring back the city from the devastation of 9/11.


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