Democrats of New York, Vote!
So. Let's be frank about the Democratic mayoral candidates: they have no chance of beating Bloomberg. This is sort of amazing, given Bloomberg's Ahab-like quest to bring a gazillion tourists and potential terrorists to the city in 2012, his pandering to the national Republicans' desire to wrap 9-11 around their presidential convention, and given his hatred for all things tobacco-y. But Bloomberg is gonna win.
So what's going on with the Democrats? C. Virginia Fields must step down from her borough presidency, as must Gifford Miller, current Speaker of the City Council. Anthony Weiner is gearing up for a high-profile political career, and Fernando Ferrar seems to have said to himself, "oh hell, why not?"
The sharpest knife here is Anthony Weiner. In all the interviews and debates, he comes off as passionate, focussed, and funny. For reasons I have already discussed, I can't forgive him his opportunistic intervention into a matter of academic freedom.
The only candidate whose hand I have shaken is Gifford Miller's. He turned out to a labor rally at my university, and he has a strong record of supporting unions. Unfortunately, he's a prat.
C. Virginia Fields interested me early on because of her focus on affordable housing; she has a lot of support from the outer boroughs, which Bloomberg has tended to ignore. But she was totally lame in the debates. When asked how she would pay for her plans, she replied that she would start with cost-cutting measures within existing programs. Unless she means that she's going to cut services (which she wouldn't cop to), she has no real economic plan.
Fernando Ferrar is the only serious candidate left. He seemed a little tired during the debates, but his commitment to affordable housing and better schools seems real. His campaign is being more careful this go-round when it addresses questions of race and class, but most voters will remember his 2000 campaign and its message that minorities were getting a bum deal in NYC. He has received the ambiguously helpful endorsement of Al Sharpton. While I generally like Ferrer, he's kind of the inevitable candidate--I mean, what the heck does he do with his time when he isn't unsuccessfully running for mayor?
I guess I'm endorsing Ferrar, but I'm not sure I'd end up voting for him over Bloomberg.