- Last Updated: 3:18 AM, April 18, 2012
- Posted: 1:38 AM, April 18, 2012
Even before Police Commissioner Ray Kelly makes a final decision about whether to take the plunge and run for mayor, the fact that there is a campaign to draft him reflects a sea change in New York City politics. Despite Democrats holding nearly a 7-1 edge in registration over Republicans, most voters have emancipated themselves from party control.
No longer is the Democratic primary the only game in town. As Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg proved by winning the last five mayoral elections as Republicans, Kelly, or someone else running against the Dem nominee, has a real chance of victory.
There is no kind way to say it. Democrats lost their stranglehold on City Hall because most voters don’t trust them to manage Gotham. That’s the truth behind the enthusiasm for the NYPD boss and the goal of making the general election a real contest between competing visions for the city.
The Dem decline is striking. As Bloomberg won his second and third terms, the losers, Fernando Ferrer and Bill Thompson, each got slightly more than 500,000 votes on the Democratic line—even though there are 2.8 million registered members of the party.
The city long has had a once-in-a-generation Republican spoiler. From La Guardia to Lindsay to Giuliani, GOP reformers were ushered in to clean up a mess, with Dems usually reasserting control soon after.
Yet that pattern has been shattered in the last five elections and now appears to be history, as the Kelly bandwagon demonstrates. Rather than waiting for the mess this time, supporters are pushing him to run to prevent one from developing.
Although Giuliani and Bloomberg are socially more moderate or liberal than national GOP officials, both have pursued strong anti-crime policies, a pro-growth, pro-jobs, pro-work agenda and fiscal integrity, though not true spending restraint.
The result is that the city has thrived in comparison to most other cities, and proud New Yorkers don’t want to return to the grim old days. As former Mayor Ed Koch said in urging Kelly to run, he fears the city could drift back to rising crime and blight if the policies are changed.
“I’m afraid all the good work done by Giuliani and Bloomberg will go down the drain,” Koch told The Post.
The clamor should be a wake-up call to those seeking the Democratic nomination. To outsiders, their action so far looks like nothing more than an audition for the union vote. Pandering doesn’t fully describe their willingness to kowtow and abdicate the responsibility to govern on behalf of taxpayers.