NYC mayor spent a record $102M to win a 3rd term

AP News
Posted: Nov 27, 2009 5:57 PM

Mayor Michael Bloomberg spent at least $102 million to narrowly win a third term, breaking his previous records for the most expensive self-financed political bid in U.S. history, according to a report released Friday by his campaign.

The report shows $18.6 million was spent from Oct. 20 through Thursday, including millions on last-minute television advertising.

Bloomberg, the wealthiest man in New York, has a fortune estimated by Forbes magazine to be $17.5 billion. He did not take donations and was allowed by law to spend whatever he wanted as long as he filed expense reports.

By contrast, his challenger William Thompson Jr. will probably have spent $9 million on his first mayoral bid when all the bills have been paid. Thompson relied on donations and matching funds. His filing is expected Monday.

Bloomberg had been widely predicted to win easily over his Democrat rival. But his push to overturn the city's term limits law so he could run again turned off voters, along with the struggling economy, and Thompson came within 50,000 votes of unseating him. Bloomberg won by about 5 percentage points, which means each point cost roughly $20 million.

"While vastly outspent, Bill Thompson's campaign ran a very close race because it focused on issues that New Yorkers most cared about, mainly that working New Yorkers are struggling to get by and are being squeezed out of the city," a spokesman for Thompson said.

Bloomberg, who made his fortune by founding the media company Bloomberg LP, has said the margin doesn't matter. "Nobody's going to remember two days later how much you won by. They're only going to remember who's going to be mayor for the next four years."

The next report will be out Jan. 15. His overall spending will probably rise even more after he hands out bonuses to his campaign workers. After his 2005 win, he rewarded salaried staffers with checks totaling more than $1 million for his top advisers, and hundreds of thousands more to other workers.

Bloomberg was first elected in 2001 by just a three-point margin, and he spent a record $74 million. In his re-election bid in 2005, he stomped his Democratic opponent by nearly 20 points and outspent himself by about $11 million, shelling out a whopping $85.1 million.