NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The mayoral candidates both Democratic and Republican have been casting their votes Tuesday, but you will not see Mayor Michael Bloomberg in a voting booth.
While he was elected to office as a Republican for two of his three terms, Bloomberg later left the party and became an independent. Thus, he cannot vote in a partisan primary.
Bloomberg’s inability to vote in the primary has not stopped him from weighing in on the candidates – one of whom will take his place in office next year.
Last weekend, Bloomberg made headlines – and drew heat – for his remarks on Democrat Bill de Blasio’s campaign in a New York Magazine interview.
In the chat, conducted on Aug. 6 and published Saturday – interviewer Chris Smith remarked that de Blasio’s campaign has been “class-warfare” in some ways, to which Bloomberg responded, “class-warfare and racist.”
Bloomberg accused de Blasio of pandering by using his family to gain support. De Blasio’s wife is African-American, and some have credited de Blasio’s TV commercials featuring their son, Dante, for the candidate’s rise in the polls.
“I think it’s pretty obvious to anyone watching what he’s been doing. I do not think he himself is racist,” Bloomberg told New York Magazine. “It’s comparable to me pointing out I’m Jewish in attracting the Jewish vote. You tailor messages to your audiences and address issues you think your audience cares about.”
The remarks drew consternation from two of de Blasio’s Democratic rivals – Christine Quinn said she “couldn’t disagree more” what Bloomberg said, while Bill Thompson called the comments “idiotic, to put it mildly.”
The remarks also prompted a backlash from Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
“The comments that were reported clearly are out of line and have no place in our political discourse,” Cuomo said. “There are plenty of substantive issues without raising unnecessary and inflammatory topics.”
Cuomo also defended de Blasio and his choice to spotlight his family.
Speculation has also mounted about whom, if anyone, Bloomberg will endorse in the general election. A New York Post report last week said he would back Republican Joe Lhota if frontrunner de Blasio won among the Democrats, over worries that de Blasio might undo his legacy.
Bloomberg has largely endorsed Democrats in recent years – including Andrew Cuomo for governor in 2010, and Barack Obama for president in 2012.
It was considered virtually unquestioned earlier this year that Bloomberg would endorse City Council Speaker Christine Quinn for mayor. But Quinn has fallen behind de Blasio in opinion polls, and has also found her opinions divided from Bloomberg on many issues, the Post pointed out.
Bloomberg was himself a Democrat before running for mayor in 2001, when he switched parties to become a Republican. He left the party and became an independent in 2007.
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