Once, A Democratic Mayoral Primary In NYC Meant Something : It's All Politics Once, the Democratic primary for mayor of New York City was a big attention-grabber. Not this time.

Once, A Democratic Mayoral Primary In NYC Meant Something

Ok, kids, gather round, as grandpa here will regale you with tales of great Democratic mayoral primaries in New York City history.

Oh, that 1961 battle, in which Mayor Robert Wagner Jr. went from establishment to insurgent in the blink of an eye, running against the party leaders ("bosses!") that backed him from the start to defeat state Comptroller Arthur Levitt.

Or that wild race in 1969, when a comebacking Wagner split the moderate-liberal vote with Herman Badillo and others (including Norman Mailer), which allowed conservative Mario Procaccino to win.

Hey, don't forget the race angle that Badillo raised against Abe Beame in 1973, a contest that included Mario ("I Didn't Plead the Fifth") Biaggi.

Say, did I mention that wild 1977 contest, when Mayor Beame, Bella Abzug, Mario Cuomo and others ran and lost to Ed Koch?

Ah, those were the days.

By comparison, few people are paying attention to tomorrow's Democratic primary between city Comptroller William Thompson (who?) and Councilman Tony Avella (who?). Little money has been raised, and TV commercials have not been aired. This, in a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans 5-1.

The reason?

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who once again has outraised his opponents five gazillion to none. Bloomberg was first elected in 2001, following two terms of Rudy Giuliani, an election that was held in the wake of 9/11. Bloomberg had Giuliani's valuable endorsement. A multi-billionaire, he also had spent what was then an unheard amount of money. Plus, the Democrats were beating themselves up; the runoff battle between Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer and ultimate nominee Mark Green degenerated into accusations about race. Bloomberg, a lifelong Democrat until he decided the way to City Hall was to become a Republican -- and in the process avoid a primary -- defeated Green by just 35,000 votes.

By nearly all accounts, Bloomberg had a very successful first term. And it showed on election day, 2005. Another gazillion dollars spent, another win -- this time, a 250,000-vote landslide
victory over Ferrer.

Bloomberg was supposed to have been term-limited out of office this year (as Giuliani was in 2001). But, with continual strong approval ratings and a feeling that there was no one out there better than he to serve as mayor, Bloomberg had the city council change the term-limits law -- in order to let him run one more time. Bloomberg, even though he left the GOP two years ago to explore an independent presidential candidacy, will be, once again, the Republican Party nominee for mayor, as well as running on an independent line. And he will be, once again, spending a gazillion dollars on his effort.

And so that leaves a Democratic primary with candidates few are paying attention to. Thompson has been comptroller for two terms, a job the New York Times says he has accomplished "with a steady and conscientious hand." Avella, hardly known outside his Queens council district, has no problem with Thompson, and vice versa. Both Democrats are saving their attacks for Bloomberg.

Lots of luck.

By the way, that same Mark Green is running for office again, trying to reclaim the job of public advocate, which he gave up in 2001 to run for mayor. He is running in a field of four candidates, including Brooklyn Councilman Bill de Blasio, who ran Hillary Clinton's Senate campaign in 2000.

And what of Howard Wolfson, who was Clinton's spokesman during her presidential run? He's working for Bloomberg.

Remember that 1965 Democratic primary? Abe Beame, Paul Screvane, Bill Ryan, William O'Dwyer, the winner to take on Republican John Lindsay? The water shortage in New York?

Those were the days.