Michael Bloomberg and Rahm Emanuel at the Chicago Ideas Week Mayors Panel in 2011

New York’s mayor Michael Bloomberg, who finagled a third term for himself, will be reluctantly leaving office in 2013. So reluctantly that he’s trying to quarterback his succession—to find precisely the right person to carry on his 12-year legacy.

It’s been widely reported that he tried to persuade Secretary of State and probable (my prediction) 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to run. She declined. Now, according to a report in the New York Times, Bloomberg is casting his net not only outside the city, but also outside the state, to find a worthy replacement.

Among those mentioned is Ed Rendell, 69, a former mayor of Philadelphia, governor of Pennsylvania, and head of the DNC, a political operative par excellence—a close friend of Bill Clinton—who has always reminded me of a generation-older version of Rahm Emanuel.

Political consultant Bradley Tusk, a Bloomberg adviser who ran the mayor’s 2009 third-term campaign, is reportedly the man who has been promoting Rendell. If the name Tusk sounds familiar, that’s because he’s the young operative who used to be the deputy governor to our own Rod Blagojevich. Tusk, 40, proved to be a canny sort who had the smarts to get out of Blago’s inner circle—he served during Blago’s first term, exiting Illinois/Blago-land in 2006 and returning to New York before he could get his hands dirty. The closest he came to ignominy was when he testified in June 2010 in Blago’s corruption trial; a ordeal that ensnared so many of his close advisers. (Oddly, Tusk, who runs his own firm, Tusk Strategies, is also “informal[ly]” advising City Council speaker Christine Quinn, who seemed to be Bloomberg’s chosen successor.) 

In fact, if there were even the slimmest possibility that Rendell, who was born and educated through high school in New York City, might relocate from Philadelphia to take a job that’s routinely described as second only to the presidency in difficulty, why isn’t Rahm also on the short list? He and Bloomberg have worked together as mayors of the third and first cities on issues such as infrastructure. Yet our mayor merits no mention in this mix of “dream choices.” I wonder if Rahm feels left out.


Photograph: Esther Kang