President Obama, no stranger to New York politics, jumped into the mix over who should be the next mayor of the Big Apple.
On Friday, as news was still swirling over Obama’s surprise selection as the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, New York City Comptroller William Thompson announced that the president had endorsed him over incumbent Republican, billionaire Michael Bloomberg. Last month, Obama exploded onto the headlines after getting involved in another key election in the Empire State – asking incumbent Gov. David Paterson to withdraw from the November election so that the more popular Andrew Cuomo would have a better shot of beating likely candidate former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Paterson rejected the president’s plea, saying that he has every intention of moving forward with his campaign. After the news of Obama’s request became public, the White House was not only forced to explain why the president had gotten involved in efforts to unseat an incumbent Democrat but why he, the nation’s first Black president, was working to undermine the rare governorship of a fellow Black politician.
To many political observers, Obama’s most recent endorsement was as shocking as the Paterson ordeal. That’s because Thompson is widely considered an underdog in the race, and if he loses despite Obama’s endorsement, it could be looked at as a defeat for Obama. Perhaps, Obama decided to give Thompson props after a poll released in recent days showed that Thompson has scooched up a few percent points, now trailing Bloomberg by only 8 percent (51 percent to 43 percent), according to Crain’s New York Business.com. Or perhaps it had something to do with the fact that Thompson was a fervent supporter of Obama during the last presidential campaign; after all, Bloomberg, who did not officially endorse a candidate at the time, made it clear that his preference was fellow Republican John McCain.
Whatever the reason, Thompson is thankful that Obama is weighing in. “I am grateful and encouraged to receive the support of the president of the United States, especially on the day that Barack Obama is named a Nobel Prize Winner,” Thompson said Friday. “It is a point of personal pride to receive this endorsement, since I made my final decision to run for mayor of this great city while waiting on line to vote for President Obama. New Yorkers supported President Obama in historic numbers on Nov. 4, 2008, and I look forward to that same support on Nov. 3, 2009. I am deeply honored and thank our president for his support and confidence that I will be the next mayor of New York City.”
Of course, whether Thompson will reap the same results as Obama on Election Day is another story. Currently, Bloomberg is well-liked by a majority of New Yorkers, according to recent polls, and he has been putting big bucks behind his campaign. Over the past months, Crain’s New York Business.com reports, he has spent about $10 million a month on his re-election efforts. To date, he has spent more than $65 million of his personal money, compared to Thompson’s less than $5 million.