The Washington Post

Bloomberg signals heightened involvement in national politics with 2012 spending

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (C) after launching NYC Restore, a new initiative to assist those in areas hard hit by Superstorm Sandy in the Far Rockaway neighborhood of Queens on Tuesday. (Mario Tama/GETTY IMAGES)

New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (I), who spent upward of $9 million of his own money in the final 10 days of the 2012 campaign, is just getting started.

That last-minute spend­ing in support of candidates who share his views on gun control and other issues provides a glimpse of the mayor’s likely political life after his third term concludes in 2013.

“This is just the beginning,” said Howard Wolfson, a top aide to Bloomberg who ran Independence USA, a super PAC through which Bloomberg doled out some of his fortune. “On issues like guns and education, Mike Bloomberg is poised to play an even bigger role in advancing a mainstream agenda and influencing elections.”

The remarks underscore the extent to which Bloomberg, already blessed with massive wealth and a national profile, appears determined to become a significant political force. The role could be alarming to conservatives who oppose Bloomberg’s brand of centrist government activism.

Take Rep. Joe Baca (D-Calif). Bloomberg spent more than $3.3 million on ads and direct mail against Baca in large part because of his “A” rating with the National Rifle Association. That was more than three times as much as Baca had spent as of Oct. 17 ($957,000) and about 15 times the amount spent by Baca’s opponent, Gloria Negrete McLeod (D). McLeod won by 12 points, a convincing victory attributed by many in the local media to Bloomberg’s resources.

The defeat of Baca is a model for the future for Bloomberg’s super PAC, according to Wolfson. Because the Los Angeles media market is so pricey, there was little competition for the Bloomberg PAC ads — allowing the New York mayor to get the most bang for his buck.

Bloomberg also spent heavily ($2.4 million) on behalf of Democratic congressional candidate Val Demings, a former police chief who worked with Bloomberg on gun-control measures, in her unsuccessful campaign for an Orlando area House seat.

He also put $674,000 behind Pennsylvania Attorney General-elect Kathleen Kane (D) and $500,000 behind Sen.-elect Angus King (I-Maine). King could announce which party he will caucus with as soon as Wednesday.

Bloomberg also dropped a pretty penny on two moderate Republican candidates with less positive results. The super PAC spent $1.2 million on behalf of Andrew Roraback in Connecticut’s 5th District and $988,000 for Rep. Robert J. Dold (Ill.). Both lost.

The bipartisan choices are not surprising for Bloomberg, who was elected mayor in 2005 as a Republican but switched his party affiliation to independent in 2007.

Chris Cillizza writes “The Fix,” a politics blog for the Washington Post. He also covers the White House.

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