Will Bloomberg’s racial rhetoric backfire in NYC mayoral race?

Opinion

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Mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg speaks on stage during the opening ceremony during Day One of the 2013 US Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on August 26, 2013 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg speaks on stage during the opening ceremony during Day One of the 2013 US Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on August 26, 2013 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg played the “racist” card against Democratic mayoral frontrunner Bill de Blasio in a recent interview with New York magazine.

Mayor Bloomberg’s handpicked candidate and former front runner Speaker Christine Quinn has been struggling down the stretch as we head into tomorrow’s Democratic primary.

In the interview, Mayor Bloomberg said de Blasio’s campaign is “class warfare and racist” and that de Blasio is “using his family to gain support…I think it’s pretty obvious to anyone watching what he’s been doing… I do not think he himself is racist. It’s comparable to me pointing out I’m Jewish in attracting the Jewish vote.”

Race may not be a card to be played, but the accusation that deBlasio’s campaign is racist is possibly one of the most offensive comments Mayor Bloomberg has ever made as mayor and one that should eliminate any black and brown support he had left.

With stop-and-frisk becoming the central flashpoint of the primary race, deBlasio’s stand-apart stance as the only one pushing for serious reforms to the program and independent oversight put him out in front.  Mayor Bloomberg’s unpopularity, particularly among black and brown New Yorkers, has always been weak with he and police commissioner Ray Kelly repeatedly making the argument that stop-and-frisk isn’t racial profiling (it is), that it reduces crime (it doesn’t), and that it’s a fact of urban life (it shouldn’t be).

And even after a judge ruled stop-and-frisk unconstitutional, Mayor Bloomberg stubbornly refuses to acknowledge the disparate impact on people of color saying, “We have not racial-profiled, we’ve gone where the crime is.”  Maybe that means there will be a lot of wall street bankers stopped-and-frisked in the coming months.

Mayor Bloomberg bases his accusation that de Blasio’s campaign is “class warfare and racist” on proposed high taxes on the wealthy and making his family a centerpiece of his campaign. De Blasio’s interracial marriage, and his wife and son Dante being active in standout commercials and on the trail, doesn’t sit well with Mayor Bloomberg, who sees Christine Quinn’s chances dwindling every time she says she would keep Ray “stop-and-frisk” Kelly at the top of the New York Police Department.

Mayor Bloomberg’s insistence that de Blasio using his own family, who happens to be black, in his commercials is somehow racist is ludicrous.

Should de Blasio not have his family speak out about the issues that directly impact people of color in New York City? Dante de Blasio is a young black man who is six times more likely to be stopped and frisked than if de Blasio had a white son.  If you’re running as a stop-and-frisk reformer, including your son in an ad highlighting this plank of your campaign isn’t racist, it’s smart politics and the right thing to do because it shows that the policy impacts real people, including your own family.

Mayor Bloomberg has said, “I think we disproportionately stop whites too much and minorities too little,” apparently completely out of touch with the opinion of most New Yorkers and the data which shows that only one gun is found per one thousands stops.

If Mayor Bloomberg can’t handle the truth about his failed law enforcement policy, and failed protege Quinn, then he has plenty of time to find his zen after he’s out of office.  There’s no need to smear de Blasio and his family for running a smart and sincere campaign about the issues that will directly impact them.

Follow Zerlina Maxwell on Twitter at @ZerlinaMaxwell.