Mayor Michael Bloomberg responded Friday to complaints that his bid to change term limits through the City Council is an attempt to run around voters.
During his radio show Friday morning, Bloomberg said if the bill is passed, it will actually give New Yorkers even more power on Election Day next year.
"All this really does is give the public more choice," he said. "And I find it fascinating, those who are arguing against, argue against it because they will have competition that they don't want."
The mayor once again said if the limit is extended from two terms to three, he will run again.
According to the New York Times, unnamed advisers to Bloomberg say they are already putting together a re-election plan that could cost $80 million or more of the mayor's own money.
The advisors say $20 million of that is allocated to a likely battle with Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner, who is expected to run for mayor, and is seen by advisors as Bloomberg's main opponent in the race.
The mayor claims it's too late to put a referendum on the ballot this year – but if the council votes to extend the limit, Bloomberg says he will put together a commission to reform the city charter and place the issue before the voters at a later time.
However, city clergy members are beginning a major campaign against extending term limits.
A week from Sunday, clergy members will use their pulpits to deliver coordinated sermons aimed at convincing the City Council to vote against legislatively changing term limits.
"I'm not really sure why we are here because the citizens of the city of New York have said we want term limits," said Bishop Orlando Findlayter of the New Hope Christian Fellowship.
A source told NY1 that a Deputy Commissioner at the Department of Small Business Services is calling clergy and urging support for the mayor's bill. A city official defends the phone calls, saying it's common to reach out for help.
This comes as some government watchdog groups are questioning Bloomberg's deal with billionaire term-limits supporter Ron Lauder.
The New York Public Interest Research Group and Common Cause want the city's Conflict of Interest Board to investigate Bloomberg's offer to put Lauder on a charter revision commission.
In exchange, the cosmetics heir would support legislation to extend term limits by four years.
In a statement, the mayor's office rejects the notion that there's any conflict and says, "This is purely a publicity stunt by people who are distorting the intent of the conflicts law because they disagree with the Mayor on a matter of public policy."
The mayor also said that opponents are fueled by political jealousy.
"Those who are arguing against it are arguing against it because they have competition that they didn't want," said Bloomberg.
City Comptroller Bill Thompson, a previously-declared mayoral candidate, dismissed the notion.
"This isn't about competition. It's about the rights and the will of the voters," said Thompson.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has yet to make up her mind on whether to extend term limits. But council members Bill de Blasio and Letitia James sent a letter to Quinn's staff yesterday suggesting that any move by the council to extend term limits may be illegal, and should be left up to voters to decide.
Councilwoman Darlene Mealy of Brooklyn told NY1 that she supports the efforts of de Blasio and James and that enacting a referendum would cost much less than the amount Bloomberg is pumping into his re-election campaign.
Democratic Brooklyn-Manhattan Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez said changing the law is a bad idea.
"I believe there is a right way and a wrong way to approach term limits. I believe that the question has to be posed to the City of New York," said Velazquez.
Voters approved term limits twice, in 1993 and again in 1996.