A bad night for the self-financed

By Laurie Bennett

November 4, 2009 at 8:22am

For rich politicians wanting to hold onto their jobs, Election Night 2009 was unnerving.

One bright light, in Detroit of all places, was Dave Bing, a former pro basketball player who made millions in the steel industry. Bing won 58 percent of the vote for his first full term as Detroit mayor. He had an edge, having taken the job earlier this year after disgraced former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick pleaded guilty to felony charges.

However, in New Jersey, Gov. Jon Corzine, a multi-millionaire who previously was chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs, lost his bid for re-election. Despite Corzine’s spending millions of his own dollars on the campaign, Christopher J. Christie became the first Republican to win statewide election there in a dozen years.

And in New York, the big news was not that Michael Bloomberg won re-election, but that he won by so narrow a margin.

Michael Bloomberg
Michael Bloomberg

Bloomberg, a billionaire through his founding of Bloomberg LP data and news company, conducted the most expensive mayoral race in history, personally spending more than $85 million.

Yet unofficial returns give him just 51 percent of the vote, with 46 percent going to his outspent opponent, New York City comptroller William C. Thompson Jr.

Many New York voters - even those who believed Bloomberg had improved their quality of life - disapproved of the mayor’s overturning term limits and spending so lavishly during hard times.

Was there an element of commoners’ revenge in yesterday’s returns?

Marc Ambinder of the Atlantic blogs: “Self-financers, people affiliated with Big Wall Street, the Old Money Crowd, the establishment, the party leadership … are being put on notice.”

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