Michael Bloomberg’s critics are hoping to make an issue out of his record campaign spending—now at $18.67 million. Among those used to be Howard Wolfson, who, as a reader reminds me, co-wrote an op-ed in the New York Times in 2005, saying the mayor’s campaign spending “was critical to his victory” and that it “distorts the terms of the debate.”
I emailed Wolfson, now a Bloomberg campaign spokesman, to ask if the criticism he had four years ago still applies. Wolfson wrote back, “I'm flattered that our opponents are still taking the time to read our oped. We wrote in 2005 about the importance of ideas in mayoral elections, stating "ideas matter more" and I believe that just as strongly today, which is the reason I'm working for the candidate in the race with the best ideas for New York City—Mike Bloomberg.
“I agree with Comptroller Thompson who has said that money won't decide this race—ideas, vision, and record will.”
Here’s what Wolfson, and Gigi Georges, his business partner at the Glover Park Group, wrote in that November 13, 2005 op-ed:
“Money makes a difference. Considering the disparities in their campaign chests, Mayor Bloomberg probably spent more on takeout food for his staff during this campaign than Mr. Ferrer spent on some of his ads. The mayor's financial dominance was critical to his victory; it allowed him to begin advertising in the spring and remain on the air unchallenged for weeks. Of course, Mayor Bloomberg's victory wasn't just about money. He and his team ran a strong campaign and in many ways he has governed just as a socially liberal Democrat would. Still, the rise in the mayor's poll numbers largely tracked his advertising budget, and in the end, Mr. Bloomberg probably spent about $74 million, outspending Mr. Ferrer by a 10-to-one margin. Such a lopsided ratio prevents voters from hearing both sides in an even-handed manner and distorts the terms of the debate.”