He's not up for re-election, but with budget fights brewing both locally and in Albany, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is taking the unusual step of speaking to New Yorkers via a new ad campaign.
Historically, third mayoral terms have been a bit rocky, and so Bloomberg is finding his third term to be no exception to that rule. From the December snowstorm to the controversy over bike lanes, the mayor has seen a fair share of criticism recently.
His approval rating reflects it, dropping steadily over the last few months.
Now, under attack from several unions as he fights for education reform and budget cuts he says are necessary, the mayor is releasing a new ad, promoting his budget.
The ad, titled “Independence,” that will start airing Wednesday on TV stations across the city says: “Everyone knows these are tough times. Mike Bloomberg’s solution is built on our core values: a balanced budget that holds the line on taxes while protecting our social safety net, fights crime and keeps vital job creation projects on track. And on education, Albany’s budget cuts threaten teacher layoffs. Bloomberg is working for reforms that help keep the best teachers in the classroom educating our kids. Independence, not for the special interests, but for all New Yorkers.”
Coming from a term-limited incumbent, the commercial is sure to spark speculation about the mayor's future political ambitions.
Political observers, though, say the ad appears to be mainly about policy and maybe a little bit about personal pride.
"This is really almost certainly about both his immediate political needs and also his reputation over the longterm as mayor: what has he accomplished, what has he achieved," said David Birdsell of Baruch College.
Whatever speculation comes up, Bloomberg aides say the ad is simply a defense of the mayor's record, which has come under attack in several union ad campaigns.
"The mayor has said repeatedly he's not running for anything else, this is his last job in elected office, but he is fighting to get his views out there," said Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson. "And we are in a debate right now with the [United Federation of Teachers], they and the AFL-CIO have spent about $3 million on ads in the last month to attack the mayor.... And they are entitled to do that. One side has been presented on television and now it's time to present the other side."