There was a recent article in the NY Daily News covering the plummeting approval ratings due to the (lack of) blizzard response earlier this week. Things aren’t looking good for Bloomie, “Bloomberg admitted City Hall was in the dark about the extent of the crisis. Sources said he didn’t know there was a 911 backlog of 1,300 calls until he was asked about it at a press conference.” The Mayor’s third term has been particularly abysmal, though this is part of a tradition that other New York city mayors who have “made it” to a third term have endured. This is, of course, in contrast to the regime of the Daley family in Chicago, where Richard Daley is ending his twenty-one years as mayor, following in the footsteps of his father, Richard J. Daley, who had also served as mayor for twenty-one years. While I have a strong contention for the type of Chicago “machine style” politics that the duo made famous, I am impressed by their ability to do what no recent Mayor of New York City has been able to do – retain popularity past a second term.

It may be the nature of highly politicized position that entails lots of decision-making that leads to the decline of third term New York Mayors. Though I doubt it is the office itself. Rather, New York Mayors traditionally pale in longevity to people like the Daleys because of their motivations. Anyone can read a poll from a nearby college and act accordingly with what the people want. In fact, that is what many speculate the Daley family is so good at doing; keeping the right people quiet. It takes a daring feat of political aspiration to act as foolishly as Ed Koch and Michael Bloomberg.

Robert Wagner tried to run as a Senator from New York after serving for only two years as Mayor. Though he brought many popular policies to the city, he ultimately fizzled. Ed Koch (no, not the Tea Party Kochs) tried an unsuccessful run for governor in 1982, a year after being voted in on a second term. At the end of his third term, he ruffled many feathers by harshly critiquing the Presidential candidates. Ultimately, he left office with a 33% approval rate. As of late, rumor has it that Michael Bloomberg is seeking higher office. He might see his third term as the stage where he will look to tack “accolades” onto on his resume, rather than what will serve the people of New York best or retain his popularity. In the past few years, he has tried to mark himself as a ‘new progressive independent.’ In an attempt to be on the vanguard, he tried to take a page from European playbooks, like his proposed idea for an insipid toll to drive downtown, tried to legislate morality through sodium consumption, and vocalized his unpopular stance on the KSM trial. If the mayor wants to visit the Oval Office, he shouldn’t rely on New Yorkers for his support, Marist polls show that 70% of the city doesn’t believe he should try for higher office. He has already stepped on too many toes.

All of these moves are in stark contrast to the Daley political machine in Chicago, which achieved re-election by never aspiring for positions aside from mayor. For instance, Boss Daley famously resisted aiding desegregation efforts put forth by Martin Luther King Jr in 1966. He pandered to his constituents, despite the unpopular ramifications on the civil rights movement outside of Chicago. Similarly, his son has experienced controversy outside of Chicago for measures like the Hired Truck Program and leasing of infrastructure. Though it is through nefarious measures, they hold the interests of their constituents first. They may be ruthless, but at least the Daleys always have their eyes on Chicago.

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