New Yorkers reelect Bloomberg to a third term as mayor

Off-year elections can be notoriously unreliable as predictors of the future, but as a window on how the political landscape might have changed in the year since President Obama won the White House, Tuesday's Republican victories in Virginia and New Jersey delivered clear warnings for the Democrats.
By Robin Shulman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 3, 2009; 11:00 PM

NEW YORK -- New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg won reelection Tuesday, giving him the third term he began seeking last year in campaigning for a change to the city's term-limits law.

But it was a hard-won victory. Despite an election-eve poll that showed Bloomberg comfortably ahead of Comptroller William C. Thompson (D), the result was in doubt for much of the night before Bloomberg pulled away late. With 95 percent of precincts reporting, Bloomberg led Thompson by 4 percentage points in the eight-candidate field.

The closeness of his victory is sure to raise speculation about the impact of the term-limits change and how much that served to trump Bloomberg's accomplishments in office. That subject had already dominated conversation at polling places around the city Tuesday.

"The main thing is to get Bloomberg out," said Véronique Doumbé, 52, a filmmaker from West Africa, speaking at an East Village polling place. "I'm coming from a country where the president never wants to leave. Term limits are essential for a democracy."

Even Bloomberg supporters said the change in the law gave them pause.

"I'm not crazy about the way he got himself on the ballot again, but I love the fact that he's non-political," said Vana Gierig, 48, a pianist. "I love the fact that he's creating bike paths."

Other supporters of the self-financed billionaire businessman and political independent said they hoped his business sense could help steer the city into economic recovery. They said they appreciated his even keel and business-like approach to problems among various groups.

"So far I haven't seen another mayor doing better than him," said Gino Pepoli, 79, a retired welder and mechanic.

On Election Day, Bloomberg campaign workers handed out fliers on street corners, while in many neighborhoods, Thompson's people were nowhere to be found.

Some voters said that the little-known Thompson had not made a strong enough case for his own candidacy.

"I don't know anything about his experience or his work," said Joan Capra, a violinist who normally votes Democrat, speaking at a polling station in the West Village.

Others said they were alienated by Bloomberg when he pressed City Council to change the 1993 law limiting lawmakers to two terms, after voters had twice rejected such a change, to allow him to run for reelection. They also noted his record-setting expenditure of more than $85 million of his personal fortune on his campaign, after having spent $55 million and $65 million in his two previous races.

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