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Howard Wolfson joins Bloomberg’s re-election campaign

By A. James Memmott

December 30, 2008 at 1:52pm

Ignoring his self-described “evil twin,” Democratic strategist and spokesman Howard Wolfson is going to work for New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s 2009 re-election campaign.

As Bloomberg’s campaign spokesman, Wolfson, the voice of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential bid, will be working for a non-Democrat for the first time. Bloomberg is a former Democrat who became a Republican to run for mayor and is now an independent.

In 2005, Wolfson referred to Bloomberg as an “out-of-touch billionaire.”

“That was my evil twin,” Wolfson told The New York Times last week.

Wolfson also told Wayne Barrett of The Village Voice that he voted for Bloomberg’s Democratic opponents in the 2001 and 2005 races.

Asked by the Voice to explain his shift to Bloomberg, Wolfson said:

“It wasn’t a single moment of epiphany. I just think that over eight years, he’s made New York a better place to live.”

In 2005, Wolfson also led the successful re-election campaign of William C. Thompson Jr. for New York City comptroller.

Thompson is now seen as a possible contender on the Democratic line against Bloomberg next year.

According to the Voice, an aide to Thompson contacted Wolfson earlier this year about working for Thompson’s campaign for mayor.

Wolfson said at the time that he was “not looking to get involved in any political race,” the aide said.

During the Clinton campaign, reporters described Wolfson as combative but, at the same time, direct and engaging.

For a while, he also achieved an odd kind of fame for his “lucky sweater,” an apres-ski garment with a diamond pattern that he wore on primary nights.

In July, Wolfson signed on with Fox News as a commentator. It was important that the conservative cable network include a “strong, progressive voice,” he said. He starts with Bloomberg next month and will leave his Fox post.

Barrett of the Voice wrote that Bloomberg’s successful wooing of Wolfson is part of a larger re-branding strategy for the mayor.

The presence of a well-known Democrat as his spokesman will lead voters to forget that Bloomberg was a Republican and that he worked hard on behalf of Republican candidates, Barrett argues.

Bloomberg’s campaign is being managed by Bradley Tusk. Like Wolfson, he once worked for New York’s Sen. Charles E. Schumer, a Democrat.

He was an aide to Bloomberg during his first term before he left in 2003 to become deputy governor to Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich, serving until 2006 when he left for Lehman Brothers Inc.

Blagojevich was arrested earlier this month on a variety of federal charges.

Calling Tusk “an honest, hard-working, competent guy,” Bloomberg told the Times that his campaign manager was not involved in the alleged activities that led to the governor’s arrest.

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