Former Comptroller William C. Thompson Jr., who lost to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in an unexpectedly close race in November, said on Tuesday that he had decided to run for mayor again in four years.
“I am not running for office this year; it is my intention to run for mayor in 2013,” he said in an interview. “While I have been flattered by the large number of people who have reached out to me to suggest that I run statewide this year, the issues I raised in New York City – the need for good-paying jobs and closing the affordability gap – those are issues I still feel strongly about.”
“While it’s a great state, I grew up in the city and love the city, and feel like I am uniquely qualified to be the mayor,” he said.
This is certainly one of the earliest imaginable announcements for any race, well, ever – but it’s probably the strongest move Thompson can make. All of the other races he was reportedly considering – against Kirsten Gillibrand for Senate, against Tom DiNapoli for state Comptroller, or against Charlie Rangel for the 15th CD House seat – would have involved primarying an incumbent, and a loss in any of those would likely have been a career-ender. Thompson may yet have to deal with a contested Dem primary for the mayoral race in four years’ time, but with this announcement, he’s the instant front-runner, and probably gives pause to other would-be contenders.
The person probably happiest about this right now is Gillibrand, who has managed to avoid primary challenges from a whole hell of a lot of people. The unhappiest? I’m guessing Rep. Anthony Weiner. While I’d expect him to try running again in 2013, Thompson now has a lot of cred as the guy who dared to take on Bloombo (and almost won) when no one else was willing. I’m not generally one to care about “waiting one’s turn,” but I think a lot of people who matter will feel that Thompson has earned a second shot, while Weiner bailed when the chips were down.
But about that Gillibrand streak of luck…
Encouraged by a group of influential New York Democrats, Harold Ford Jr., the former congressman from Tennessee, is weighing a bid to unseat Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand in this fall’s Democratic primary, according to three people who have spoken with him.
Mr. Ford, 39, who moved to New York three years ago, has told friends that he will decide whether to run in the next 45 days. The discussions between Mr. Ford and top Democratic donors reflect the dissatisfaction of some prominent party members with Ms. Gillibrand, who has yet to win over key constituencies, especially in New York City.
About a dozen high-profile Democrats have expressed interest in backing a candidacy by Mr. Ford, including the financier Steven Rattner, who, along with his wife, Maureen White, has been among the country’s most prolific Democratic fund-raisers.
When this story first “broke,” I thought it had to be some kind of joke – sort of like Bob Kerrey’s absurd (and mercifully brief) flirtation with the idea for running for NYC mayor in 2005. But somehow, it looks like this crazy Ford idea is quite a bit more real than that. I simply can’t imagine how Ford, an extremely conservative Southerner who ran for office in Tenneesse just three years ago, could have much appeal to New York Democrats. While the comparisons to Hillary Clinton are inevitable, I think there are a hell of a lot more differences than similarities.
In any event, if Ford does run, nothing could make me want to support Gillibrand (about whom I’ve been quite lukewarm) more. I suspect a whole lot of other people and organizations will be similarly motivated. Ultimately, it sounds like Ford is being propelled by wealthy interests similar to those which backed Tom Suozzi in his suicidal run against Eliot Spitzer in the 2006 gubernatorial primary. While Gillibrand’s lock on the nomination isn’t quite as secure as Spitzer’s was, I think these moneybags will see their dollars run into a stiff wall of grassroots and establishment resistance. Democratic primary politics in New York state ain’t beanbag.