New York’s three-term mayor, billionaire Mike Bloomberg, may not be running for another elective office, but he’s not about to step out of the political spotlight. The day after the latest presidential debate, the mayor announced he will be putting his considerable economic muscle into a super PAC to fund political candidates. This latest Bloomberg initiative is focused on supporting local, state and federal political candidates—regardless of political affiliation—that support gun control, gay marriage and education.
Mayor Mike has not been the least bit shy in expressing his frustration over the fact that neither Republican nomineenor President Obama has offered cogent, constructive plans about gun control. At the recent town-hall debate at Hofstra College, an undecided voter asked what each candidate would do to get AK-47s off our nation’s streets. Mr. Obama’s answer focused on enforcing existing laws and supporting programs to discourage violence. Mr. Romney indicated he does not support any new legislation, instead stressing education and parenting—preferably with two parents. The mayor was unimpressed with either response, and was quick to point out that the shooter who opened fire in a crowded Colorado movie theater was a PhD candidate. In the past, Bloomberg has mounted aggressive critiques of the powerful gun lobby and has reached out to mayors across the country to support strict gun control legislation.
As mayor, Bloomberg has established a reputation as a fierce advocate for education, gun control and gay marriage. His support of equal rights regardless of gender or sexual orientation was well known before he took office. On the education front, Bloomberg pledged to reform NYC’s schools, and he has drawn both criticism and praise for his policies. Wresting control from the New York City Department of Education put the mayor at the helm one of the largest, most diverse and troubled educational systems in the county. In appointing Joel Klein as chancellor, Bloomberg had a staunch ally in reforming curriculum, setting academic standards and demanding teacher accountability. Some of these ideas rattled teachers’ unions and parent groups and drew sharp criticism. However, on balance, the Bloomberg-Klein partnership was generally viewed, if not a roaring success, a step in the right direction.
However, when the mayor tapped former publishing executive Cathie Black to replace Klein, the results were a near disaster. Even before formally taking office, Black demonstrated near tone-deaf attitudes about public education and the people it serves. Black was forced to step down in a matter of months, and Bloomberg replaced her with Dennis Walcott, a respected education professional who has helped the mayor regain his reformer mojo.
Now, with just a year left as New York’s mayor, Bloomberg is signaling he’s not ready to leave the political arena. According to informed sources, the mayor is prepared to pony up between $10 million and $15 million dollars, directing the funds into the current election cycle. The focus will be on underwriting candidates on either side of the political aisle who support education, gun control and same-sex marriage. Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson is taking a leave of absence from City Hall to run the PAC.
While this is yet to be confirmed, two candidates that are expected to receive an infusion of cash from the new Bloomberg PAC are Rep. Bob Dold (R-Ill.) and former Maine Gov. Angus King, the independent candidate for the U.S. Senate. Both candidates are locked in tough races, and each shares a political sensibility with Mr. Bloomberg. And with less than a month until Election Day, this latest infusion of PAC dollars could be a real game-changer.