Obama Organizers on a 2009 Mayor’s Race Without Obama

Jordan Thomas, the founder of Brooklyn for Barack, was flying home last week from Denver, where he was a field organizer, when a question popped into his head.

Could he still organize people in time for the mayor’s race, and do it without using Obama’s name?

“What do you think? I mean, it’s a pretty good brand, but it might be pushing it,” said Thomas, 38, standing in the back of a small Park Slope restaurant Sunday night where he and a few other early Obama supporters were recognized by a local Democratic club for their work during the campaign.

The event drew about 50 people, crammed into a small room, where plates of empanadas and plastic pitchers of Mojitos were quickly being emptied. Two Democratic mayoral candidates, City Comptroller Bill Thompson and Representative Anthony Weiner had made brief appearances.

But Thomas did not sound particularly fired up about the mayor’s race.

“I think that the question is what will we rally around locally?” he said. “And will those things that we rally around locally, will that enable us to stay together as a larger community or will people go off and do their own thing, you know? And I think that that is the question.”

I asked Thomas if he thought any of the Democratic candidates, with grassroots support, could defeat Michael Bloomberg.

He answered, “I’m going to leave that alone.” He went on to say he’s been out of the city for several months but was in discussions with other organizers about what to do in the 2009 election season.

Towering over a few attendees in the front of the room was Chris McCreight, the 35-year-old founder of Bay Ridge for Obama. Having just gotten back from organizing in Erie, Pennsylvania four days earlier, McCreight was already sizing up the 2009 prospects.

And they didn’t look good.

To defeat a candidate like Michael Bloomberg, McCreight said you’d need someone who could inspire large swaths of people into action.

“Obama was unique in the sense that he was that candidate, but he also had the money,” McCreight said. “So, Bloomberg’s got the money. You have this sliding scale where Bloomberg’s got so much money that you have to have so many more people to get close to that. Look what happened in the primary in New York, Obama had so many more volunteers, so much more grassroots; he still lost. I’m just talking New York City. He still lost New York City.”

“We did a lot, but you can only go so far,” he said of their efforts here during the primary. “I think, realistically, when you’re up against – I’m not going to say Bloomberg is Hillary – but you’d need so much money, but you would need a candidate who could really, really organize people.”

Obama Organizers on a 2009 Mayor’s Race Without Obama