The self-made billionaire Mike Bloomberg, who is running for mayor of New York City, is already flooding television with his campaign advertisements. According to the New York Times, Bloomberg, a Republican, has already spent eight million dollars of his own money in the last five months acquainting himself with New Yorkers. This is more than all other candidates together, Democrat and Republican, have spent running against him.
Bloomberg’s only other Republican opponent is Herman Badillo, who has raised $159,000 and spent only $182,000.
During a speech in Queens last week Bloomberg said, “We live in a city where if you make your money honestly and you spend it to do good things, generally people like you for it.” Bloomberg has been quoted as saying his self-financed campaign is a form of charity. Instead of raising funds from voters, he thinks he is doing New Yorkers a favor by using his own money. He argues that by using his own money no special interest groups will be able to influence him. However, throughout the campaign Bloomberg has been vague about the sources of money and unwilling to disclose all of his financial records.
Bloomberg has an entirely different view on campaign finance than most of his fellow politicans. While the McCain-Feingold bill is still struggling in Congress, the New York City Council is still enforcing its voluntary campaign finance plan, which began in 1988. Bloomberg’s opponents have all agreed to participate in the plan, putting a $5.5 million-dollar spending cap on their campaigns through September. This plan has been successful in allowing candidates at all income levels to enter the race with credible campaigns. New York has gotten off to a good start in battling the ongoing campaign finance problems. The spending cap allows for politicians to focus more time on their campaign, and less time on raising money from the wealthiest donors.
But if Bloomberg continues to outspend his opponents, everyone but a few billionaires will be discouraged from running for office.
Billionaires like Bloomberg might seem more credible if they knew a thing or two about politics. The fact that Bloomberg left the Democratic party because of fewer opportunities and joined the Republicans is a sign he may not be well versed on his political stances. He has no city, state or federal government experience. How does he expect to govern one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S.?
Bloomberg recently expressed his views on issues such as gay marriage and prayer in school. What about the problems New York is facing right now? If he really wants to follow in Giuliani?s footsteps, he should start discussing what New York really needs fixed. I wouldn’t mind hearing how the candidates plan to make housing more available and affordable for New Yorkers.
Bloomberg is another example of how the political world continues to weaken. Rich businessmen think if they can run a business, they can run the government when in fact, they are only weakening the system.