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Bad night for billionaires

Republicans can claim shouting rights in Virginia and New Jersey, and the Democrats have picked up that furiously contested House seat in northern New York state (which gives the Democrats 49 House members and the Republicans two in America’s northeast corner -- New England and New York). But there can be no joy on Wall Street. The two aging financial whiz kids on tonight’s ballots -- former Goldman Sachs CEO Jon Corzine and Bloomberg’s Michael Bloomberg -- seriously underperformed.

Corzine was unseated in his bid for re-election as New Jersey’s governor by Republican Chris Christie. Across the river in New York, Bloomberg eked out a much- closer-than-anyone-expected 51 percent to 46 percent victory over city Comptroller William Thompson, whom he outspent by no less than 14-to-1, to win a third term as mayor.

Both Corzine and Bloomberg have always been self-funding candidates, with Corzine setting records for most money spent on a state gubernatorial election and Bloomberg setting records for most money spent on any sub-national contest on planet earth. Writing in Tuesday’s New York Times, Joyce Purnick noted that Bloomberg’s expenditures in this year’s mayoral contest already surpassed the $85 million he spent on his re-election effort four years ago, and could reach $100 million when all the spending is tallied. By the middle of last month, the total that Bloomberg had spent on his three mayoral runs was a tidy $245 million.

Bloomberg’s underperformance looks like a clear case of voter resentment of hizzzoner’s hubris. The guy runs the city well, most New Yorkers seem to believe, but he also got the city council to scrap the city’s term-limits law this time around so he could run again. The richest guy in town -- and New York’s got a lot of rich guys -- gets the law changed just so he can keep the job? In a world nearly undone by the arrogance of Wall Street, Bloomberg displayed just enough of that arrogance to threaten his re-election. Unlike his fellow Wall Street gazillionaires, however, and more than Corzine over in Jersey, he had a record he could defend, which is what -- narrowly -- saved him.

Does the Bloomberg-Corzine bust augur troubles ahead for such mega-rich 2010 candidates as Meg Whitman, the former eBay CEO who is seeking the Republican gubernatorial nomination in California? Could be, though eBay is a company that doesn’t shlep the frightful baggage of Wall Street around with it. Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, is also contemplating a senatorial run next year against California’s Barbara Boxer -- and though Fiorina’s tenure at H-P was anything but successful, she still left with the customary fortune that departing CEO’s mysteriously acquire.

Will 2010 turn out to be as deflating for CEO candidates as 2009 did? Stay tuned.

By Harold Meyerson  | November 4, 2009; 12:20 AM ET
Categories:  Meyerson  | Tags:  Harold Meyerson  
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Next: The Democrats get lashed


So way to spin out the lesser concerns Meyerson. Surely you hoped and expected strange man Corzine ("I made a fortune screwing the little guy but now I'm a populist Dem ...") to win with all of the White House help? But no, so you spin toward the NY Mayorial?? Sophistry I say! LOL
The Dems lost both gubernatorial races. That is harsh for Obama despite pathetic spins.

Posted by: Observer21 | November 4, 2009 2:12 AM | Report abuse

"The richest guy in town -- and New York’s got a lot of rich guys -- gets the law changed just so he can keep the job?"
You used to have been born in Texas to serve as Governor. That birth rules changed; guess who?; and apparently 'to serve' is not really well defined either. New Yorkers are unsophisticated rubes when it comes to real politics. We almost feel sorry for them.

Posted by: gannon_dick | November 4, 2009 2:51 AM | Report abuse

"The richest guy in town -- and New York has a lot of rich guys -- gets the law changed just so he can keep the job?"

Well, New York has a banana republic sort of, as well as a flavor of Moscow oligarchs' perfume to it.

Money, money , money makes the world go round...

Hum! Cheers and congrats to the Master of New York, and future Master of the Universe.

Posted by: foxblues | November 4, 2009 6:02 AM | Report abuse

Bloomberg and Corzine lost because they're tax-raising liberals who are failures at governing, not because they're billionaires.

Posted by: LWise14193 | November 4, 2009 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Understanding that you can't talk about it...

and knowing that such statistics are
up front and well known after every election by every county chairman on up...

does anyone know if Jewish candidates were
disproportionately rejected this election?

Will we every hear it?

Posted by: whistling | November 4, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

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