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Bloomberg’s Spending on Re-election Bid Reaches $7.5 Million

blo4.jpgThe NY Times reports:

Six months before the election, Michael R. Bloomberg has already outspent his leading rival in the mayor’s race by a seven-to-one ratio, despite a commanding lead in the polls.

With a fresh wave of television and radio commercials, the mayor has poured $7.5 million into the campaign so far, according to new records obtained by The New York Times.

In the process, he is shattering — once again — records for spending in a New York City election and running financial laps around his challengers.

William C. Thompson Jr., the city’s comptroller and a Democratic candidate for mayor, has put $1.3 million into the race, city records show.

The mayor’s new advertising blitz features a tieless Mr. Bloomberg talking to middle-class New Yorkers about their economic anxieties, assuring them he has a plan to protect their jobs and keep the city affordable.

The commercials suggest that, despite the mayor’s wealth and the power of incumbency, his campaign is uneasy about how the volatile economy could affect voters’ views of him.

Mr. Bloomberg, a billionaire, has now spent more than the city’s campaign finance laws allow Mr. Thompson — or any other challenger accepting public financing — to use in the race from now until the September primaries.

Mr. Bloomberg is not accepting public financing, and therefore faces no spending limit.

The spending gulf between the mayor and Mr. Thompson is prompting an outcry from several academics and good-government groups.

“It’s not anything approaching a fair race that allows each candidate to present their case on equal footing,” said Chris McNickle, the author of “To Be Mayor of New York: Ethnic Politics in the City.”

He called the situation “absolutely without precedent.”

Mr. Bloomberg’s campaign declined to confirm or deny the new spending figures, saying it would disclose such numbers in the next campaign finance disclosure form, due on May 15.

But Mr. Bloomberg’s campaign advisers say they are simply exploiting a financial advantage that the mayor, who founded the financial data firm Bloomberg L.P., has rightfully earned.

“Mayor Bloomberg has never taken a dollar of special interest money, and this November voters will again have an opportunity to support a candidate who is unbought and beholden only to the people of New York,” said Jill Hazelbaker, a spokeswoman for the mayor’s campaign.

The data given to The Times show Mr. Bloomberg has spent $4.4 million on television ads and $121,000 on radio advertising. Of that, the campaign devoted $253,000 to TV ads aimed at Hispanic households and $11,000 on radio ads intended for Hispanic listeners.

The ads, which have run on major radio and TV networks, including ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN and MSNBC, since the first week of April, began at an unusually early date. Until Mr. Bloomberg entered New York politics, mayoral campaigns did not start TV ads until August — and the mayor, who has broken nearly every spending record, did not run TV ads until mid-May in 2005.

So far, the comptroller’s political advertising has consisted of a simple YouTube spot in which a campaign employee interviews New Yorkers on the street.

Mr. Bloomberg has a double-digit lead over Mr. Thompson in the polls, and his spending rate is expected to become a flash point in the election. He has spent a total of nearly $160 million in the last two campaigns. His rivals argue he should limit advertising this time around to level the playing field.

Mr. Thompson has his own potential advantages: Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by five to one in New York City (Mr. Bloomberg intends to run on the Republican and independent ballot lines).


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