7:37 am Nov. 7, 20121
Despite a flurry of late spending from Mayor Michael Bloomberg's super PAC, the mayor's preferred candidates had a mixed record in last night's election.
In New York, former congressman Dan Maffei appeared to have beaten Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle, a Sarah Palin-endorsed Tea Partier, with a boost from Bloomberg's super PAC.
And in California, his uphill battle to unseat Democratic incumbent Joe Baca, who the mayor views as an opponent to sensible gun control, was going surprisingly well, with State Senator Gloria Negrete McLeod (also a Democrat) opening a lead against Baca. Bloomberg saw that race as an opportunity to send a message to Democrats on guns, and he spent more than $3 million to boost McLeod, who was initially considered something of a longshot to topple Baca.
But his spending didn't help as much in other states.
In Florida, Bloomberg's PAC spent nearly $2 million to help former Orlando police chief Val Demings, who lost to conservative Republican incumbent Daniel Webster.
And both moderate Republican candidates his PAC gave money to appeared to have gone down to defeat.
In Illinois, incumbent Rep. Robert Dold lost to his Democratic challenger, despite millions in late money from the mayor.
And in Connecticut, "New England Republican" Andrew Roraback lost a race for the open seat being vacated by Rep. Chris Murphy, who won his Senate race against Linda McMahon.
Bloomberg's late entry into Roraback's race caused enough anxiety for Democrats that their House super PAC upped its buy after the mayor got involved.
The mayor also invested in one non-federal race, spending heavily on anti-gun ads to support Kathleen Kane the Democratic candidate for attorney general in Pennsylvania. Bloomberg's PAC spent heavily to run television commercials in the Philadelphia area, touting Kane's support for closing the gun-show loophole and highlighting her opponent's endorsement from the National Rifle Association.
Bloomberg's preferred candidate, Scott Brown, also lost his Senate seat in Massachusetts to Elizabeth Warren, an outspoken liberal who came to political fame as an advocate for more muscular regulation of Wall Street. Bloomberg held a fund-raiser for Brown, but his PAC didn't put any money into the contest, which turned out to be one of the most expensive in history.
The mayor won in Maine, where he poured in $500,000—through the aspiring third party Americans Elect—to help independent Senate candidate Angus King. Bloomberg also hosted a fund-raiser at his Manhattan townhouse for King, who is expected to caucus with the Democrats.
He won in Missouri too, where moderate Democrat Claire McCaskill ran away with a surprisingly easy victory over conservative Todd Akin. Bloomberg hosted an event for McCaskill this cycle too, after dispatching a team of aides to help her win her first victory in 2006.
In Iowa, Christie Vilsack, a House candidate who the mayor had hosted, lost her bid to unseat incumbent Republican Steve King. The mayor's PAC didn't contribute to McCaskill or Vilsack.
In the seven races where the mayor spent significant sums, he won four of them.
Bloomberg has previously described his super PAC spending this cycle as a sort of test run for exerting his influence after he leaves office, saying he'll "be freer to do more in a couple of years."
UPDATE: Bloomberg also contributed substantial sums to same-sex marriage referenda in four states, all of which passed.
Stefan Friedman, a spokesman for SKDKnickerbocker, which helped produce some of the direct mail and television ads for the mayor's PAC, said in an emailed statement: "Whether it's getting guns out of the hands of criminals; allowing people to marry regardless of their sexual preference; or cleaning up the environment, a solid majority of Americans believe that government has to enact common-sense reform and last night, they made clear that they don't want to wait any longer. By exercising their democratic rights at the polls and voting for common-sense candidates and causes, the people took a giant step towards achieving reforms that will last a lifetime and benefit a great many."