MELISSA BLOCK, host:
The global financial crisis may be shaking up New York City politics. Tomorrow, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is expected to announce he wants to run for a third term, and that means changing the city's term limits law. Bloomberg is a former investment banker, and he's expected to make a pitch, along these lines, that only he has the qualifications to save the city in its time of need. So, what do New Yorkers think? NPR's Robert Smith gathered some reaction.
ROBERT SMITH: Americans may have lost faith in billionaires and Wall Street CEOs, but New Yorkers have made an exception for their mayor. Dean Jenks(ph) is pushing his baby on a stroller on the Lower East Side, and he says Bloomberg is his hero.
Mr. DEAN JENKS (New Yorker): I would support him if he wanted to run the city for the next hundred years.
SMITH: Hundred years.
Mr. JENKS: I think the guy is super, like Superman.
SMITH: Of course, this whole story is right out of a comic book. The citizens of Metropolis are scared. Dark forces are at work.
Mr. JOHN JOHNSON(ph): I think we're in a financial crisis.
Mr. ABE HECKOR(ph): Our budget's heading for the toilet. Social crisis.
Mr. MARIE VISCUZUL(ph): Greed.
SMITH: And as citizens like John Johnson, Abe Heckor and Marie Viscozul are crying for help, mild-mannered technocrat, Michael Bloomberg, is about to duck into a phone booth and emerge costumed for a third term. And he might pull it off. He has what some would call super political powers.
Unidentified Man #1: He's articulate, professional. He's very forthright.
Unidentified Man #2: He's a good, honest, decent man.
Unidentified Woman: He's a billionaire. He knows how to deal with financial crisis here.
SMITH: And that multibillion dollar fortune and sky high approval rating makes it easy for Bloomberg to leap tall election hurdles in a single bound. But every superhero has his kryptonite, and Bloomberg may face that with the city's term limits law. It's been passed by voters twice, and politicians have been loathe to mess with it. Even people who rave about the mayor, like John Johnson, have second thoughts about ditching the term limits.
Mr. JOHNSON: Too much time for one person starts to corrupt the whole system. And you know, maybe he'd be great in the third term, but I don't think he should run for it. I don't think he should take it.
SMITH: It's kind of like when a superhero gets drawn over to the dark side.
Mr. JOHNSON: Yeah. I think power corrupts. It clearly does, right?
SMITH: The term limits law even has some henchmen that might be willing to battle against the mayor. Namely, all those politicians who are eyeing a run for mayor themselves. The city council president, the city's controller, and a Brooklyn congressman have all been positioning themselves for a campaign, and they would have gotten away with it, too, if it were not for that meddling mayor. The thing about term limits is that it seems like a good idea until it kicks out someone you like. Abe Heckor is ready to suspend it just this once.
Mr. HECKOR: In this case, I would think it's an exception to the rule. He's been good for eight, and I think he'll be good for another four.
SMITH: The last two New York mayors who have had a third term, Robert Wagner and Ed Koch, struggled through those last four years, leaving the office much less popular than when they came in. Sometimes, even a superhero can wear out his welcome. Robert Smith, NPR News New York.