It’s still six months away from the election, but Mayor Bloomberg has already shelled out $7.5 million, nearly six times what comptroller Bill Thompson, his main rival, has spent so far. This is fairly unprecedented, even for Bloomberg. The Times reminds us that before Hizzoner traded his business-mogul hat for his politician’s hat, “mayoral campaigns did not start TV ads until August.” But this year he’s topping even his own historical affinity for early starts, debuting his ads over a month earlier than last election. This gross disparity in resources is, not surprisingly, a source of consternation for a lot of people. Author Chris McNickle is quoted today as saying, “It’s not anything approaching a fair race,” while Bloomberg’s “rivals argue he should limit advertising this time around to level the playing field.” But is that really a reasonable request?
Sure, the way Bloomberg tweaked the term-limits law for his own personal benefit was troubling, and the fact that he has more money than God means any race he runs in will never be fair. That’s certainly not the ideal situation for a democratic society. But at the same time, can you really expect him to forgo his own political advantages, and give his opponents a better shot at defeating him, for the sake of fairness? Please. Would Thompson hold back on Bloomberg if their financial situations were reversed in some bizarro alternate reality? Probably not.
The point is Bloomberg is running to win, he has a ton of money that the law allows him to spend as he pleases, and he’s not taking anything for granted (he wouldn’t even wear goggles at a Home Depot photo op yesterday for fear of an image-corrupting “Dukakis moment”). It’s frustrating, for those who believe Bloomberg shouldn’t even be allowed to run again in the first place, that this race seems increasingly like a foregone conclusion. But voters still have the final say, and if they didn’t find Bloomberg a compelling candidate, all the money in the world wouldn’t change their minds (cough — John Catsimatidis — cough).