Power and Politics - I am Not the Yellow Peril

The life and times of an Asian American activist who tells all the truth (and dishes news and analysis) but with a leftwards slant.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

APIA Power Plays: John Liu Raises the Dough

A little bit of dish on elected officials in New York:

City Councilman John Liu, who I wrote was seeking higher office a while back, has put together a SERIOUS fundraising machine according to the NY Daily News:

Liu has banked $1.6 million for an unspecified campaign in 2009, when his term-limited stint on the Council must end.

The Democrat is outpacing all his Council colleagues, including Quinn, who has raised $1.4 million for her likely mayoral bid, according to finance records.

Quinn is rumored to want Mayor Bloomberg's job (the man is also term-limited in 2009, and she has gone so far as to be all kissy-kissy with Bloomie in public,) so as to gain the Godfather's nod. Last I heard, he was considering the Comptroller's seat. But Liu has had mayoral ambitions for a long time. So the major question on people's lips is where does he want to land?

Let's investigate his money - he is raking in the dough but he doesn't have a wide berth of support: "Liu's contributions come from varied sources, many of them New Yorkers of Asian heritage. And many donors have maxed out - given the maximum of $4,950 to a municipal candidate for citywide office."

We'll call this the Hillary Clinton/ Mitt Romney strategy - scare off competitors by amassing shitloads of bucks. However, dig deeper and it turns out that the money all comes from a few high rollers who have maxed out, and that other people (Barack Obama) have hundreds of thousands more individual contributors. Not really the best strategy for a citywide race.

He's got 1769 individual contributors, so the average donation is about $904. Although that amount seems high, let's look at what other citywide candidates are pulling in:
"Three of his Queens Democratic colleagues also have substantial war chests - Melinda Katz, $1.32 million; David Weprin, $1.29 million, and Eric Gioia $717,788.

Both Katz and Weprin have set their sights on succeeding city Controller William Thompson, and Gioia hopes to take over for Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum.

Thompson and Gotbaum are also term-limited and eying mayoral bids."

In comparison, Eric Gioia, a fellow 21st Century Dem, has 2854 donors, for an average contribution of $252. Queens councilman Queens Councilman David Weprin has 1104 (average $1168.)

Councilwoman Melinda Katz has 1054 donors (average $1252), and City Council Speaker Chris Quinn has 1392 (average $1006) Manhattan Borough Prez Scott Stringer has 891 donors and NYC Comptroller William Thompson has 1148 donors. Congressman Anthony Weiner and runner up in the Dem primary last year (aka, the "Who wants to lose to Bloomberg?" race) has 930.

However, a different article contradicts the fund-raising totals, putting Comptroller Thompson at over $3 mil and Congressman Weiner (brooklyn) at $2 mil plus, with Liu in third. (This still isn't a bad place to be if you want to be Comptroller or something lower than mayor. Except that the intra-Queens battle for Comptroller between Katz and Weprin is only going to intensify if Liu enters the fray and then most likely, someone from another borough would come in and make a power move. Also, the Queens battle will be decided by the Queens machine, and there will be many a compromise between now and 2009. Otherwise, he's contending for Public Advocate, a pretty flimsy position and title, against someone who he has considered a political friend - Eric Gioia. But all's fair in love and war, including dropping a carpet bomb of fundraising. Why is Liu limited to mayor, Comptroller or dog catcher (I mean Public Advocate)? because these are the only three citywide offices, and he's been pretty repetitive on that point. Really, if it were me, I would rather go with Queens borough president over Public Advocate, but he only has so much of a Queens base. So signs still point to Comptroller, since it's the ohnly legitimate jump to mayor.

Finally, let's consider that John Liu will probably not make it past the maze of gates and gatekeepers and hurdles to win the mayoral primary, and that his base in Queens can't propel him far enough. Then, he still needs to win against the Republican candidate. Mayor Bloomberg spent an obscene $85 MILLION for his 2005 campaign. The man could play puppeteer to any self-ascribed hack or politico in New York and buy them the mayoralty. Crazy shit, but fairly true. Especially give Bloomie's sky high ratings. (No wonder Liu came around on congestion pricing like he'd found Jesus.)

Yeah, yeah, I know Bloomberg just "divorced" the Republican party and there are rumors of him running for pres as an independent. Man still has enough money to buy two elections. One local, one national. Now, what I would love to see if for him to go up against Mitt Romney to see who can outbribe/outbid each other to be our nation's next dear leader.

Just kidding, folks. I still believe in our democracy, and I really don't want to see an election with our Democratic candidate versus two Richie Richs - one who founded an entire firm dedicated to generating more capital (Bain) and one who owns a rapidly expanding media empire (Bloomberg.) Cos I'm not sure that's a battle we'd win. Unless the nation fell for a Paul Wellstone like character who promised to not self-fund, or to take money from PACs. Oh sorry, you say Feingold dropped out?

Well, I guess Obama will have to do.

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