Magazine article The New Yorker

The Talk of the Town: His Honor

Magazine article The New Yorker

The Talk of the Town: His Honor

Article excerpt

It was nearly one in the morning by the time Michael Bloomberg mounted the stage to deliver his victory speech at the B. B. King Blues Club & Grill, in midtown, last Wednesday. Perhaps in deference to the hour, or perhaps simply out of fatiguehe had been up for most of the previous night campaigningthe Mayor-elect kept his remarks short. He spoke briefly about his opponent, Mark Green, who, he said, "deserves the respect of all New Yorkers," and almost as briefly about his own triumph, which he called "a victory for our vision, and our faith in the future of the greatest city in the world." As he rushed along, only once did he appear to approach reflection, and that was when he looked back on his decision to enter the race.

"When I started thinking about running for mayor, I did talk to a number of close confidants who had political experience, and I guess the summary of what they told me is: 'Don't do it,' " he said to his supporters in the club, and whoever else in the city still had the TV set on. "Well, this time I didn't listen to them, thank goodness. What I did look at is how Rudy Giuliani and George Pataki had made our city better, our state better, and our lives better. And I looked at the gleam in the eyes of Ed Koch and Hugh Carey, who had been there earlier in saving the city, and I said, 'I want to do that, too!' "

From the beginning, Bloomberg's candidacy had a shape at once strange and familiar: here was a man in the midst of a late midlife crisis, who, instead of buying a fast car or ditching his wife, decided to become mayor. He didn't much care what it would cost, or, for that matter, whether spending what it would cost was appropriate. Between what he shelled out on ads, advisers, and direct mailingsthe total is expected to top sixty million dollarshe broke just about every record in political history. For most of the race, it seemed that even this wouldn't be enough, and then, suddenly, it was.

To win the Democratic nomination, Green hadvery narrowlydefeated the Bronx borough president, Fernando Ferrer, and Ferrer, who had hoped to become the city's first Latino mayor, subsequently accused him of having done so by racist appeals. It is hard to know whether Ferrer was motivated by a genuine sense of grievance that also suited his political interests or by political interests masquerading as grievances. In any case, Green, who had spent his entire adult life on the left edge of New York politics, saw himself losing black and Latino support to a billionaire who until very recently had been a member of several all-white clubs.

Before Bloomberg decided to enter the race, he was not a Republican, and even during the campaign he kept hinting that he still wasn't one. …

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