New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg set off a firestorm Saturday when he called mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio’s campaign “racist” in a New York Magazine interview. Bloomberg made the case that de Blasio’s campaign was “racist” for using his family to gain support in the black community equating it to him pointing out that he was Jewish to attract the Jewish vote.
In previous mayoral campaigns that’s exactly what Bloomberg did.
“Class-warfare and racist,” Bloomberg said of de Blasio’s campaign to New York Magazine. “I mean he’s making an appeal using his family to gain support. I think it’s pretty obvious to anyone watching what he’s been doing. I do not think he himself is racist. It’s comparable to me pointing out I’m Jewish in attracting the Jewish vote. You tailor messages to your audiences and address issues you think your audience cares about.”
According to a report from Newsday during his 2005 campaign Bloomberg, who is ethnically Jewish but not observant, sent out “an eight-page mini-magazine with photos of ‘Mike the Mensch’ wearing a yarmulke. A headline atop one of its pages proclaims: ‘Orthodox Jewish Families a Priority For Bloomberg.’”
Likewise in 2005, according to the New York Times wearing a yarmulke while speaking to Hassidic Jews in Brooklyn “appeared on a dais adorned with blue balloons that read ‘Mike the Mensch.’”
During his 2001 campaign for mayor, Bloomberg also sent direct mail to Jewish voters as well pointing out the fact he was Jewish.
The “glossy direct-mail” items read “he learned from his parents,” and went on “Mike Bloomberg for Mayor — Protecting Our Community.”
The brochures said “has been an active supporter of many volunteer and non-profit organizations,” naming specifically the the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee.
Bloomberg’s item sent to Jewish voters “even bragged that he had been given the 1997 Herbert H. Lehman Award by the American Jewish Committee,” according to the New York Sun.
Another 2001 mailer said he was ‘one of the Jewish community’s most dedicated volunteers and most generous donors.”
Campaigning with your interracial family to appeal to a community might be different than pointing out you’re Jewish in direct-mailers, but it’s not that different.
Note: This has been updated to note it’s unclear how Mayor Bloomberg was comparing de Blasio using his family to campaign to Bloomberg pitching himself to Jewish voters.