New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is in a rut.
Nearly seven out of 10 New Yorkers want the next mayor to be someone who's nothing like Bloomberg, someone who would take the city in a different direction, a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC 4/Marist poll shows. Only 25 percent of residents want a mayor who would continue Bloomberg's policies.
Earlier this month, mayoral candidate Christine Quinn, a Bloomberg ally, stumbled toward a disappointing third-place finish in the Democratic primary despite earlier front-runner status. Part of her problem was Bloomberg.
With the Democratic mayoral election approaching, Bloomberg told New York Magazine that the eventual winner, Bill de Blasio, was running a "class warfare and racist" campaign. Quinn distanced herself from the remarks even though the mayor praised her in the same interview.
"She deserves a lot of the credit for what’s gone on in the city in the last seven and a half years," Bloomberg said.
Quinn got less than 16 percent of the vote. De Blasio, the anti-Bloomberg candidate, got the 40 percent he needed to win the primary and avoid a run-off election. In a city dominated by Democrats, he's considered a shoo-in as Bloomberg's successor.
Bloomberg has suffered setbacks outside of New York, too.
Congress shut down his call for tighter gun control following the mass killing of children in a Connecticut elementary school. Bloomberg fared better in Colorado, helping to pass new gun restrictions following a mass shooting in an Aurora movie theater, but then voters turned against the state legislators who helped him.
Bloomberg gave his allies more than $350,000, but the two Democratic state senators who led the gun-control effort were evicted on Sept. 10 — and his contribution may have hurt as much as it helped.
The mayor's previous attempts to legislate salt intake and soft-drink sizes in New York City created in Colorado a caricature of an out-of-touch politician foreign to local norms. Recall supporters jumped on him, accusing the out-of-state billionaire politician of meddling in local politics.
"In Colorado, we don't need some New York billionaire telling us what size soft drinks we can have, how much salt to put on our food, or the size of the ammunition magazines on our guns," Republican statehouse candidate Bernie Herpin told Reuters at the time.
Despite these setbacks, it’s obvious that the slide can only go on for so long for a mayor who's led the city since 2001.
When he departs at the end of the year, Bloomberg will leave behind an enormous legacy built over an unprecedented three terms in office. And he will exit office at the end of the year with one advantage unknown to most other politicians: enormous personal wealth.
Bloomberg has already shown a willingness to spend his own money on personal causes like gun control, and he's likely to continue his largesse to influence local and national politics.