Will Congestion Pricing Make or Break Mayoral Campaigns?

While we wait to see what happens, or doesn’t happen, today in Albany, New York Magazine takes a look at four mayoral aspirants and how their positions on congestion pricing may affect their chances of succeeding Michael Bloomberg.

  • City Council Member Tony Avella: "[Avella is] an obscure pol, and attacking CP allowed him to grab attention while
    promoting his anti-tax agenda. But he may have gone around the bend,
    ranting about routine horse-trading for council members’ votes."
  • Comptroller Bill Thompson: "The city comptroller has been mildly supportive of congestion pricing, though he’s always been careful to attach caveats … Why take a bold stance on something that might never happen?"
  • City Council Speaker Christine Quinn: "[S]he used last week’s vote to demonstrate leadership on a contentious issue … Plus, wrapping her arms so tightly around CP also earned Quinn a big chit with Bloomberg…"
  • Congressman Anthony Weiner: "[I]n the campaign, he’ll cast congestion pricing as Manhattan-centric and
    elitist, like Quinn. Weiner was thrilled to see her so far out front."

And don’t forget Marty Markowitz, whose most notable contribution to the congestion pricing discussion has probably been his vehement opposition to new bridge tolls. 

On a related note, the Daily Politics reports that Deputy Mayor Kevin Sheekey issued a not-so-subtle warning on the radio this morning that state pols will be judged on where they come down, and could be supported or opposed accordingly in future races.

Whether or not the plan passes in Albany, how will congestion pricing influence your vote for the next mayor?

  • da

    I have two “litmus tests” for candidates at all levels:

    o Congestion Pricing: must be “pro”
    o Atlantic Yards: must be “con”

    Unclear whether any such candidates exist.

  • Spud Spudly

    It may determine who people on Streetsblog vote for, but that’s probably about it.

  • JK

    I’m more interested in how a pricing loss effects Bloomberg’s enthusiasm. He controls how city street space is programmed, how curbs are priced and zoning is planned. Will he (and the CP coalition) rebound and redouble efforts to popularize cycling and reclaim streets?

  • Mark

    Quinn is the only acceptable choice so far. Weiner is the worst-case scenario.

    Obviously CP is a big deal to me — my other litmus test issues are pedestrian rights and peak oil.

    And like JK, I wonder what the next move will be for the livable streets movement.

  • Quinn went way up in my opinion, but I’m not sure she’s the one or if she’s really electable in a five borough race.

    I would not underestimate the power of CP to strip Weiner of his support from many good government groups and editorial pages. He made a big mistake for not at least staying on the sidelines. He has to hope that he makes it to the run-off because there are many that will take away his votes in the first primary.

  • Larry Littlefield

    If CP goes down, the question is how hard the state legislature will work to delay any financial consequences until after 2009.

    Frankly, I don’t think they care what happens to the state after 2008, and may not be in a position to do anything about the upcoming disaster after next April. Except tell those who benefitted from all the deals handed out over the last two decades to give everything back and then some, which will not happen.

    The MTA is facing a big financial crisis, with our without CP, but it will be worse without. So is just about every other layer of government.

    Imagine Bloomberg demanding that Avella and staff surrender their placards, and publicly demanding that Weiner and Brodsky get the funds RIGHT NOW to offset the lost revenues.

    I’ve always said that the opponents are best served politically by having CP pass.

  • Spud Spudly

    OK, I agree that the League of Conservation Voters may not endorse CP opponents. But ultimately CP will be a small factor in the endorsement decisions of most newspapers. And any negative effect Weiner may feel from not getting the NYLCV endorsement will likely be more than offset by setting himself up as the champion of the outer-borough working stiff.

  • It’s not just NYLCV, but many other civic, labor and business leaders. If they all go for one candidate (let’s say Quinn), it could be hard to beat in the primary. Newspapers look more at the good government groups than polls in making their endorsements.

    LL – I think Bloomberg will go out fighting on this issue if he loses. He thinks he’s on the right side of history and I could see him workin on this with similar zeal as smoking cessation and gun issues.

  • gecko

    As the only part of PlaNYC that requires legislative support it’s clear that those who oppose Congestion Pricing will also stand in the way of a sustainable New York and the future of this town.

  • Felix

    This plan is supported by a broad coalition of labor, business, and environmental groups. I wouldn’t jeopardize a lifetime appointment to the Assembly by pissing them off.

  • DP

    I am glad CP didn’t pass. I support CP as an idea, but Bloomberg’s proposal left too many unanswered questions; essentially throwing money into the “black hole” that is the MTA. No accountability for revenue. I want to see CP which works for the entire city (includes congested outer borough areas) and provides transparency and accountability for the funds which must be used for public transportation. Bloomie’s proposal didn’t do that.

  • Brad Aaron

    Actually, DP, the original proposal would have created a separate authority for allocating pricing revenues. It was one of the first components seized upon by pricing detractors. Can’t blame Bloomberg for that one.

  • DP

    Brad – would you feel comfortable with another NY “authority” handling the money? I am all for the idea and I hope the concept will impact mayoral (and other) future campaigns. The plan just did not have assurances that the money was not going to be used as another slush fund source.

  • Brad Aaron

    I was only pointing out that the original plan called for keeping the money in a separate pot, DP. Albany pricing opponents howled at the prospect, then used the mayor’s concession to help kill the plan altogether by saying no “lock box” was strong enough to keep them from using the money elsewhere — all the while calling for transparency and assurances only they could provide.

  • DP

    Albany is definately part of the problem instead of the solution, unfortunately.

  • TD

    CP is a foreign concept.
    It may work in London, but London’s brand of transit does work … one pass to use all mass transit within a widespread area … we have three different states, varied transportation agencies and authorities and the Port Authority, all wanting a piece of the pie and with impenetrable siloed fiefdoms that barely work together and will never make a one-card multi-system, multi-state pass work … unless it’s an EZ-Pass, of course.
    Maybe Bloomberg can foot the bill for CP himself with his billions, instead of trying to bribe legislators with porcine cash.

  • If that business with the fake nonprofits takes Quinn’s mayoral campaign down, it looks like Thompson is our best hope.

    If the Democrats wind up nominating Weiner, Avella or (god forbid) Markowitz, I suggest having a third party – or even the Republicans – draft Enrique Peñalosa. He was born in DC, so he probably has citizenship, and he has an apartment in New York.

    Most importantly, he has experience expanding transit and restricting cars – on a low budget.


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