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Media Mogul Bloomberg Signals N.Y. Mayoral Bid

February 22, 2001|JOHN J. GOLDMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

NEW YORK — It became clear Wednesday that Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire media entrepreneur, has taken a major step toward running for mayor by hiring the media consultant who guided the successful City Hall campaigns of John V. Lindsay, Edward I. Koch and Rudolph W. Giuliani.

The choice of David Garth, who also had been courted by three potential Democratic mayoral contenders, was a clear signal of Bloomberg's intent to seek office.

Garth said he indeed expects Bloomberg, a 59-year-old Republican, to run for mayor. Bloomberg was in Rome on Wednesday attending ceremonies marking the elevation of New York's Archbishop Edward Egan to cardinal.

The management skills that made Bloomberg so successful in creating a business news and information empire, Garth said, certainly had relevance to the mayor's office and would be themes stressed during the campaign. Bloomberg is expected to spend his own money to help finance his run for City Hall.

As a Republican in a city with an overwhelming Democratic registration, Bloomberg's major task will be to attract crossover voters.

A recent Marist Institute for Public Opinion poll found that three-fourths of voters in New York City had no opinion on Bloomberg. That clean slate could be an advantage in crafting Bloomberg's image as someone who has been highly successful outside the political process. Typically, campaigns run by Garth release biographical commercials before moving onto issue-oriented spots.

The Marist Poll also showed that 64% of the city's electorate believes things are going in the right direction under Giuliani--who by law cannot seek a third term.

The poll revealed as well that the priority of registered voters is improving the quality of the city's public schools--an issue that could dovetail with Bloomberg's business background.

The media entrepreneur--who heads a news service, magazine, radio and television empire--has been flirting with running for mayor in recent months.

Last year, the onetime Democrat switched parties, which allowed him to avoid what is expected to be a crowded Democratic primary.

He has assembled a potent campaign organization, including Bill Cunningham, who was chief of staff to former Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.).

The front-runner in the field of potential Democratic candidates is New York City's Public Advocate Mark Green, who has been a frequent critic of the Giuliani administration. Other Democrats with mayoral ambitions include Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer, Controller Alan Hevesi and Peter Vallone, the City Council speaker.

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