Despite growing controversy over the radical wing of the Independence Party, Mayor Michael Bloomberg seems determined to run with its nomination, which party leaders announced on Saturday.
Earlier this year a source in Bloomberg’s campaign said that because an Independence leader, Lenora Fulani, in a TV interview refused to back away from her controversial writings about Jews mass murdering people of color he would seek "a different ballot line" to supplement his GOP standing.
But this weekend Bloomberg’s campaign told reporters he would accept the nod.
He has until July 18 to change his mind. But Henry Stern, chairman of the Liberal Party (which also hopes to have Bloomberg on its ticket) doubts that will happen.
"I wouldn’t expect the mayor to cut off his nose to spite his face," said Stern. "[Voters] will accept that it’s something a Republican mayor has to do to get elected in a Democratic town. [Bloomberg’s campaign] made a decision that probably 99 percent of people in the Independence Party have never heard of Lenora Fulani or disagree with her."
The struggling Liberal Party needs to collect 7,500 signatures to get on November’s ballot. But even if it does, Liberal isn’t nearly as popular as Independence, the state’s fastest-growing party and third largest.
Stern said he was exploring a suit to void a state law that keeps some public officials from running on more than two ballots at a time. If he is successful, the mayor could conceivably run as the Republican, Liberal and Independence candidate. If not, a reinstated Liberal line would have to be doubled on the Republican ballot, bringing no additional votes.
But Stern, who says the mayor’s views are consistent with the Liberal party on social and economic issues, said he won’t mind if the Independence ballot propels Bloomberg to victory, as it did in 2001.
"We want him to be re-elected," said Stern.One of the Democrats seeking Bloomberg’s job, Rep. Anthony Weiner, said "it raises questions about the mayor’s judgment that, rather than try to change the leadership of the [Independence] party he is bolstering it." He noted that the mayor gave $250,000 to Fulani’s chapter.
Bloomberg spokesman Stu Loeser said the mayor has "has repeatedly raised the strongest concerns about Ms. Fulani to the leaders of the party."