First Horseman of the Apocalypse
So, children, not only is Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz very close to announcing a run for mayor, but the poor twerps at Gothamist are proclaiming that "Mayor Marty Markowitz Does Have a Nice Ring to It". I'm sorry, I shouldn't call the Gothamist people twerps. They're good people, they just have no idea how awful Markowitz is.
See he's not just playing a bluff, crass, shallow media personality, to compensate for the fact that the Brooklyn Borough President has no power, he actually is a shallow media hound. He's one of the most intellectually lightweight pols that the New York Democratic party has ever vomited forth. According to, um, wikipedia, he "spent over two decades as a New York State Senator for Brooklyn. During his time as a state senator, he was known for creating a series of oceanfront concerts and other festivals rather than drafting legislation."
I've spoken to more than one person familiar with the Borough's politics, and their verdict is that the man has very limited gifts, and little head for the economic and social issues that are going to roil the Borough in the coming years. To be honest, I don't think the man shouldn't be mayor because he's been a proponent of the Atlantic Yards. I don't think he should be mayor because his support for the project shows how he's able to ignore the social, environmental, economic and cultural effects of the project because of some weird fixation on a 1950s egg-cream vision of what Brooklyn could be.
Markowitz has demonstrated a flair for edgy fundraising practices, getting his picture taken, and cuddling up to real estate developers. That's it. He hasn't been slumming as Borough President, he's been forced to raise his game, and at the first sign of trouble he's been exposed as vindictive, inarticulate and petty.
But I want to be constructive, and so may i suggest that the man may have a use back in the state senate. The state senate has been in Republican hands for years, and is thus in a good position to block any useful legislation that percolates through the cesspit that is Albany. But it could tip towards the Democrats in the next few years.
Particularly vulnerable is Bay Ridge senator Marty Golden, who took his seat from a Democrat in 2002. Marty's schtick is well-suited to the electorate of Bay Ridge, and I say that not out of a lack of respect for their mental faculties but because present-day Bay Ridge is probably the only part of Brooklyn that slightly resembles the 50s Brooklyn playing in Marty's head.
There's a pleasing symmetry to the idea of Marty taking the guy down, since he came into his job as Borough President after one Howard Golden (no relation, far as I can tell) retired. After returning to the senate, he can do as he's f***ing told by Spitzer, and never come back down from Albany again.
I'm not really too worried about the man becoming mayor, since he'd lose to pretty much any Republican that can string a sentence together. He would be further proof that the city's Democrats are incapable of presenting a candidate for mayor we could vote for without wincing. If I had the vote I'd pull the lever for Roger Stone before him.
Which brings me to a more general point about these New York mayor shenanigans. It's an important job, don't get me wrong, but the selection process is all f***ed up. First you've got the democratic primary, which is a little pitched battle between various venal mini-machines, and then you have the general election, where the Republican candidate, who has spent the time working out how to be appealing to electors rather than working out which democratic club can cough up the most fundraising dollars, stomps the Dem.
It's sort of a mystery to me how Mike Bloomberg and Rudy Guiliani, the two most recent Republican mayors, have convinced themselves that the natural additional media attention they get for being mayor of New York somehow equates to electoral catnip. Both won pretty handsome re-elections, and both assembled a pretty good record in the city (I'll leave the debate over whether the economy achieved the same effect to one side).
But both of them have only won election campaigns against the New York City Democratic party. I can't stress enough how important this is. The city's Democrats long since gave up on concentrating on electability, deciding instead to devote their energies to dividing the spoils that an overwhelmingly left-leaning electorate dumps in its lap every single election time. Beating the Democrats isn't so much a proof of electability as proof that you can at least comb your hair in the morning and talk like you managed to finish high school.
Give Markowitz anything more taxing to do than attend a high school graduation and you'll be quite aware of this too. Apologies for the rant, but if he gets nominated I'll start scouring the New Jersey real estate listings, and if he's elected I'm outta here.
[UPDATE: Since buying a place to live I'd largely stopped visiting Brownstoner, and had been given to think the quality of its commenting had declined rapidly. Not so. Some good stuff on Marty's record in the Borough here]