Basking in the glory of having beat expectations in the 2009 mayor’s race, Bill Thompson is now announcing plans for another bid in 2013. It’s easy to consider him the front-runner, but running from his position is difficult.
Just ask Jef Pollock, who advised the another former Democratic mayoral candidate who did well in one mayoral campaign and, without seeking another office, tried running again four years later.
His candidate in 2005 was Fernando Ferrer, by that point a former Bronx Borough President who had done well in the 2001 mayor’s race.
After the 2005 race, Pollock said the campaign faced the twin challenges of having front-runner expectations with none of the advantages of incumbency. ”[W]e were starting in one of the weakest positions that I can remember, which is a non-incumbent, running as a frontrunner, with no government staff to help, no infrastructure to help, nobody around him to help and no money raised over a couple of years.”
In between his 2001 and 2005 mayoral runs, Ferrer was out of office, but did lead the Drum Major Institute, a lefty think tank. In a brief interview this morning, Ferrer seemed to advice that Thompson find similar work.
“Find something satisfying to do” that “lets you be as opinionated as you want to be,” he advised Thomson. At the same time, he said, it let’s you “feel like you’re accomplishing something” and “paying a larger, metaphysical debt to humanity.” That would be the “best option,” he said.
“Then, everything else will take care of itself.”
When I asked Ferrer if Thompson would face greater expectations in a second mayoral bid, Ferrer said that depended on who his opponents are.
Another consideration is whether they can strong-arm the media, as Ferrer thinks Bloomberg was able to do, but that he and other Democrats couldn’t.
“If your opponent has the ability to saturate reporters and their editors, then the expectations are higher,” said Ferrer. Referring to 1992 race where Rudy Giuliani, an attorney in private practice, running against incumbent Mayor David Dinkins, Ferrer said, “For christ sake, when Rudy was representing all kinds of foreign opponents, you didn’t have an opponent calling in chits with editors.”
The one piece of advice Ferrer told me he offered to Thompson: relax.
“I would suggest take he a couple of months off, do the things normal things people do; spend time with your wife and kids. It’s a good thing.”