2012 Newsmaker: Michael Bloomberg
Eleven years into his time as mayor of New York City, you might have thought that Michael Bloomberg would be slowing down. He had once again flirted with running for president, but ultimately decided against it. However, it turned out that 2012 would be one of the more defining years of his administration.
In New York state politics, the most significant event of 2012 was inarguably Superstorm Sandy. For a mayor who has endured many obstacles, responding to Sandy and keeping the city’s residents safe during the storm and its aftermath was easily one of Bloomberg’s biggest tests. Supporters of the mayor will say he rose to the occasion. The city’s emergency services were very well prepared for the storm, with hourly advisories to the public days before it made landfall. In the aftermath, Bloomberg continued to be a reassuring presence with updates on power outages, emergency supplies and transit closures. The city was, for the most part, back up and running in just a few days. But some clear missteps cannot be glossed over. Most notable was Bloomberg’s decision to cancel the New York City marathon a few days before the race, and just days after he reassured runners it was going to happen.
Superstorm Sandy wasn’t the only tragedy that Bloomberg was in the center of at the end of 2012. Just weeks after the storm, the country was gripped by the terrible school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut. Bloomberg, a longtime advocate for better gun control laws, was once again thrust into the middle of this national debate.
For his actions in relation to these two defining moments, Michael Bloomberg is our newsmaker of the year for 2012.
2012 Newsmaker, Runner-up: Jeff Klein
After the 2010 elections, Jeff Klein formed the Independent Democratic Conference – a small breakaway group of Democrats who were not happy that their conference had stumbled through its two years in power and ultimately lost control of the state Senate to Republicans. At the time, Klein’s group of four senators looked like nothing more than a protest caucus – possibly a stunt to provide distance from the tarnished Democratic conference for a few people who could be vulnerable in general elections down the road. But that small conference turned into a bona fide power player when the results of the 2012 elections came in: With one race too close to call, and unlikely to be sorted out until mid-January, the balance of the power in the chamber between Democrats and Republicans basically stood at 31-31. (It was a lot more complicated than that, but for the sake of brevity we’ll simplify it.) A door was open for Klein to make a power play, and he cut a deal between the IDC and Republicans that elevated himself to co-leader of the chamber, announcing the agreement on Dec. 4. Much of politics is making the best of your circumstances. In this case, a rank-and-file state senator convinced a few colleagues to form a small caucus and positioned that group in a place where he could elevate himself to co-leader of the entire chamber. That’s pretty impressive political gamesmanship, and worthy of the honorable mention in 2012.