* Bloomberg will have to contend with emboldened rivals
* Seen by some voters as out of touch with average people
By Edith Honan
NEW YORK, Nov 4 New York Mayor Michael
Bloomberg won a third term on Tuesday, but the combination of a
smaller than expected victory and the rise of newly emboldened
rivals could make for a rocky four years, experts say.
Critics said Bloomberg would have to counter the perception
of arrogance that stemmed from his pushing through a change in
term limits last year that enabled him to run for a third term,
as well as the idea he bought the election.
Bloomberg defeated the city's Democratic comptroller, Bill
Thompson, by a surprisingly close 51 percent to 46 percent
after pouring at least $90 million of his own money into the
race -- a U.S. record for personal campaign spending. Opinion
polls had shown Bloomberg as recently as Monday with a
Polls have shown that while most voters approved of
Bloomberg's job performance, others faulted his leadership
style and perceived the billionaire mayor as out of touch with
average New Yorkers.
"He ran a campaign that was devoid of any sense of
humility, and I think that was a mistake," said journalist and
Bloomberg biographer Joyce Purnick. "People don't like to feel
like they're being bought."
She added, "He's still a mayor in a city where the
mayoralty is all-powerful and that's not going to change."
Bloomberg pushed City Council last year to extend term
limits on the grounds his financial skills and experience were
invaluable for guiding America's most populous city through
hard economic times.
As mayor, Bloomberg has won praise for fiscal prudence, the
city's 36 percent drop in crime since 2001, and taking control
of the much-criticized public school system.
Bloomberg, 67, is founder of the Bloomberg LP news and
information company, which competes with Thomson Reuters
(TRI.N) (TRI.TO). He ranks 17th on the Forbes list of the
world's richest people with a net worth of $16 billion.
On Wednesday, Bloomberg rejected the idea his narrower than
anticipated re-election margin clouded his victory.
"What people are going to judge this administration on is
accomplishments, and over the last eight years a majority found
those accomplishments to justify another four years," Bloomberg
NO MORE 'ONE-MAN SHOW"
Political analysts said Bloomberg would have to tweak his
style in order to have a successful third term -- especially
since rivals will see battling with Bloomberg as an opportunity
to win political points with disaffected voters.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, incoming Comptroller
John Liu and incoming Public Advocate Bill de Blasio have all
been named as possible 2013 Democratic mayoral candidates.
"Over the last four years, many people looking to succeed
him were looking to have a good relationship with him," said
Richard Briffault, a Columbia Law School professor. "And now
they're going to be less interested in that."
A longtime Democrat, Bloomberg became a Republican to run
in 2001, but dropped his party registration in 2007. He ran
this year as the candidate for both the Republican and
The depth of New York City's economic problems might be
worse this year than when Bloomberg's first term began in
January 2002, when the city was still shaken by the Sept. 11,
2001, attacks and multibillion-dollar budget deficits.
"After 9/11, the city craved steady, successful leadership
from a successful businessman, and he provided that and voters
rewarded him with a resounding victory in 2005," said Dick
Dadey of good government group Citizens Union.
Bloomberg's first term benefited from a surprisingly swift
economic recovery as the city's economic motor, Wall Street,
resumed churning out big profits. The city gets about 9 percent
of its tax revenue from banks and brokerages.
Political observers agree Bloomberg's success will depend
at least in part on whether he can convince New York voters he
"New Yorkers want a more supportive mayor that they can
relate to," said Dadey. "It's no longer a one-man show."
(Additional reporting by Burton Frierson and Joan Gralla;
Editing by Michelle Nichols and Peter Cooney)