12:54 pm Oct. 24, 20121
Mayor Michael Bloomberg's new super PAC is staying out of Massachusetts.
"We will not be spending in that race," Howard Wolfson, the former Democratic operative who is managing the mayor's last-minute spending blitz on favored congressional, told me this morning.
Wolfson cited a pledge between Republican incumbent Scott Brown, who Bloomberg supports, and Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren to discourage outside spending in their Senate contest, which is punishable by self-imposed penalties and has been surprisingly successful in keeping independent expenditures at bay. (Some groups have skirted the pact by spending on direct mail and voter contact efforts, which aren't covered by the agreement.)
Brown was arguably Bloomberg's most eye-catching endorsement this year, coming in a closely watched Senate race shortly after the mayor made a renewed push for increased gun control laws after the tragic shooting in Aurora, Colorado.
Bloomberg said he was supporting Brown, who had previously received high marks from the National Rifle Association, for bucking the NRA, and his party, on an important vote that would have required reciprocity for concealed gun owners traveling into other states.
The race has also become a cause for the financial services industry, which has balked at Warren's old-style progressivism and anti-bank rhetoric. Bloomberg has always been an aggressive champion of the industry, and the mayor mentioned "socialism" when discussing Warren in a recent interview with the New York Times.
The mayor, who hosted a fund-raiser for Brown in August, has pledged between $15 and $20 million to bolster moderate candidates.
It's not clear how much the mayor's money would have helped in the race.
A new poll in Massachusetts shows Brown trailing Warren by five points.
The race has been in flux, and Warren's lead seems like it could be surmountable; earlier this month, just after President Obama's disastrous performance in the first debate, the same poll had Brown leading by four points.
But Bloomberg would have to devote a sizable portion of his pledged spending just to make even a small dent.
Warren, with help from New York liberals, has raised more than $36 million so far, and Brown, with the backing of the financial services industry, has raised $25 million, making the contest the most expensive congressional race in the country, and one of the most expensive Senate races in history.
So far, Bloomberg has spent just $96,000 on a couple of direct mail pieces in House races, where a modest investment can make a big difference.