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Michael Bloomberg, Joe Sestak and the Fix endorsement hierarchy



New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg endorsed Pennsylvania Senate candidate Joe Sestak today. Photo by Ramin Talaie/Bloomberg

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) traveled south today to formally back the Senate candidacy of Rep. Joe Sestak, touting the Pennsylvania Democrat's "independence" and leadership qualities.

"A vote for Joe is a vote for leadership, a vote for Joe is a vote for independence, and a vote for Joe is a vote for the results our nation so desperately needs," said Bloomberg at the event this morning. (The two met during Bloomberg's nationwide gun safety campaign, according to those familiar with the relationship.)

The one unanswered question of Bloomberg's Sestak endorsement? Where does this fit in the Fix endorsement hierarchy, of course.

We cooked up the hierarchy during the 2008 election cycle in an attempt to catalog the relative importance (or lack thereof) of various types of endorsements. (And, yes, if you are wondering this is an idea we "borrowed" from Bill Simmons' -- aka the "Sports Guy" -- "Levels of Losing".

A quick reminder of our categories.

The Fix Endorsement Hierarchy (ranked in order of influence)

* The Symbolic Endorsement: Ted Kennedy backing Barack Obama during the 2008 primaries.
* The In-State Statewide Endorsement: Florida Gov. Charlie Crist throwing his support to John McCain just before the Sunshine State presidential primary in 2008.
* The Celebrity Endorsement: Chuck Norris for Mike Huckabee in 2008.
* The Newspaper Endorsement: The Washington Post endorsing state Sen. Creigh Deeds in the 2009 Virginia Democratic gubernatorial primary.
* Out-of-State Statewide Endorsement: South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint endorsing former Florida state House Speaker Marco Rubio in the 2010 Senate primary.
* The What Goes Around Comes Around Endorsement: Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani endorsing former state House Speaker Marco Rubio in the 2010 Florida Senate primary.
* The Obligatory Endorsement: Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran endorsing McCain's presidential bid in 2008.
* The Non-Endorsement Endorsement: Former Virginia Gov. Doug Wilder passing on state Sen. Creigh Deeds in the 2009 governor's contest.
* The Pariah Endorsement: Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards (D) endorsing anyone.

Bloomberg's support for Sestak -- like many things about the New York City Mayor -- is a bit hard to quantify.

On the one hand, his endorsement fits relatively nearly into the "out-of-state statewide endorsement" category. Bloomberg is the mayor of a major East Coast city and delivered the Sestak endorsement in another major East Coast city (Philadelphia).

But, Bloomberg has never thought of himself -- or been -- just the mayor of the Big Apple. By dint of his massive wealth and high profile presence at the head of his eponymous news organization (not to mention his national ambitions on gun safety among other issues), Bloomberg is a celebrity of sorts.

And, in his remarks endorsing Sestak, Bloomberg clearly played up his national profile -- touting broad themes like "independence" and "leadership" rather than more parochial Pennsylvania issues. "I think of the entire nation which is why I'm here," Bloomberg said at one point.

It's a tough call but, ultimately we see Bloomberg's backing of Sestak as the slightly less valuable "out-of-state statewide endorsement" rather than a celebrity endorsement. (And, Howard Wolfson sighs.)

While Bloomberg's visit will draw considerable positive press for Sestak, particularly in the Philadelphia area, it's hard to imagine the endorsement swaying all that many independents this November.

Remember, too, that swing independents in Pennsylvania tend to be the so-called Reagan Democrats -- not exactly Bloomberg's wheelhouse constituency.

Agree with our assessment? Disagree? The comments section awaits.

By Chris Cillizza  |  August 17, 2010; 2:43 PM ET
Categories:  Fix Endorsement Hierarchy  
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