1:25 pm Aug. 17, 2012
Stu Loeser, the departing press secretary for Michael Bloomberg, said he had to "tack left" when he left the office of Democratic senator Chuck Schumer's office to work for the billionaire mayor.
"When I left Chuck, on a lot of issues, on issues related—actually with the exception of trade, on virtually every issue—Mike Bloomberg was probably a little bit to the left of Chuck Schumer," said Loeser, who kept a photo of Schumer on his desk even after he switched jobs, in an exit interview on "The Brian Lehrer Show" this morning.
"He was a little bit to the left of him on guns, which was a huge, important Chuck issue," Loeser continued. "He was a little bit to the left of him on lots of social issues. So actually going to work for the Republican, in this sort of weird way of New York politics, actually meant I had to tack left a little bit."
When Loeser made the switch in 2005—recruited by the same Bloomberg brass that had deflected his attacks in 2001, while Loeser worked for Mark Green—Bloomberg and Schumer were both positioning themselves as left-leaning moderates.
The formerly Democratic Bloomberg, vying for a second term, was trying to reassure a liberal city that he was no run-of-the-mill Republican; Schumer, just beginning his second term as U.S. Senator, had spent his first campaign and then much of his first term convincing swaths of upstate that he wasn't just a lefty Brooklyn congressman.
So Bloomberg was outspoken on gun control and an avowed advocate of same-sex marriage. Schumer, following the mood among the national Democratic Party, had become quieter on gun control since he helped author the Brady Bill in 1994, and had yet to fully embrace same-sex marriage. (Even as a Brooklyn congressman, Schumer voted for the Defense of Marriage Act in the 1990s.)
Since his re-election in 2005, and in the course of a long flirtation with a theoretical run for president floated by his own aides, Bloomberg has styled himself a third-way moderate, denouncing Democrats and Republicans with resolute equivalency for failing to solve the nation's problems.
But, as Loeser pointed out this morning, he's not really much closer to the middle than Schumer, and might even be farther from it; he just has less of a direct interest in partisan outcomes.
For Schumer, there's an obvious disincentive in pushing priorities like gun control that have much more likelihood of hurting Democrats' numbers in Congress than it does of becoming law anytime soon.