Weiner Lays Out Campaign Strategy
January 12th, 2009
A bid that will hinge on the generation of “innovative” ideas — a concept collecting dust under the Bloomberg administration, he said — Weiner’s second bid for the city’s top executive was (almost) accelerated today at a Citizens Union breakfast brief. Though Weiner was highly critical of the current administration and said he would be “well armed” for a Democratic primary campaign against Comptroller William Thompson, he cautioned press and policy wonks that January is not a time for politics, but for policy.
The congressman said he won’t be campaigning fully until about June, and, for now, he will be concentrating on his job in Washington, representing New York’s ninth congressional district.
“I don’t think you go from campaign 2008, which lasted two years, and start campaign 2009 in January,” he said. January is for discussion, and November is for debate, he added.
Though he will shy away from a full-steam ahead strategy as of this point, Weiner did say he has raised $6.7 million, including matching funds, from 2,100 contributors for the primary, which is more than the city limit to participate in public financing.
Recalling his bid for mayor in 2005, Weiner said he missed debates and candidates forums, because he was busy doing his job. At least for the next six months, he is going to stick to that strategy.
To no surprise, what Weiner did reveal about his campaign was it would revolve around securing New York City’s dwindling middle class. He plugged a policy document, called Keys to the City, which could become the pillar for his mayoral campaign and includes a call for tax cuts for the middle class, taking authority from Albany, affordable housing, reliable transit and more.
He called Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s congestion pricing plan, which would, in effect, toll the city’s East River crossings, an “old, discredited idea.” Claiming our current officeholder lacks imagination, Weiner said it was time to look for interesting, unique approaches to solve New York’s policy predicaments and fiscal woes.
He said the administration’s claim that you can’t control Medicaid and pension costs is a fallacy. Weiner took aim at the hidden slush funds on both sides of City Hall and vociferously criticized the approval of a term limit extension, effectively allowing Bloomberg to run for a third term. He said the mayor’s fiscal management, including a 63 percent increase in the cost of each worker attributed primarily to the rising cost of pensions, has become a strategy of “boom-bust,” spending in flush times without proper long term preparation.
When asked about the mayor’s ability to pay down billions in future debt — a strategy Bloomberg has implemented for the last two budget cycles — Weiner said the cost of the city’s debt has still risen more than 50 percent under this administration.
If elected, Weiner also said he would rescind a requirement to fingerprint food stamp recipients and would try to keep more services, like those provided by Metropolitan Transportation Authority, in the power of city office holders, not unelected authorities. He would take a “sugar and vinegar” approach to Albany and would continue to spur development in the city. Weiner recognizes — given the economy — that many projects, which were a large part of the mayor’s development agenda, would have to be scaled back.By Courtney Gross on January 12, 2009, 11:47 am
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