03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Win That Should Have Been: Holding the DNC Responsible for Tuesday's Loss

What could have swung this mayoral election into a Thompson win?

The people of New York didn't go take this vote-buy-out on their knees. Bloomberg's supposed 18 point blow-out materialized on November 3rd as a tight race with a narrow margin of 4½ points. Four and a half points that stand proudly in the shadow of 90 million dollars, as a statement to Mike: "This is not a mandate. In fact, it's barely an election. You battered the system, its public servants and its press into submission to you, and it has still managed to proclaim you a tyrant."

That's why a lot of us woke up feeling good on Wednesday. We all spent the summer faithful to the inevitability of a Bloomberg win, some of us maybe to guard against dramatic disappointment in November. Just like hunger is the best seasoning, our months of steadfast pessimism made this loss feel triumphant, and even our press is treating it like a victory for Thompson. A glance at the Times website this morning showed Thompson with his arms up in the air like a boxing champion.

Well, it's just not that simple. Unfortunately, we have four more years of price-outs, rent-raising, corporate favoritism, and blatant classism in City Hall. Bill Thompson is not a champion. In fact, he lost.

But he didn't lose it for himself. Bill lost without any quality staff available to him because of a Bloomberg monopoly on political talent in the state. He lost with a fraction of the media connections and control that Bloomberg has. He lost with laughable financing. The fact that he came within 5 points of the 90 million dollar baby really is a victory for Bill Thompson and his campaign. He did well with his tragic lot.

But it's a failure for the Democratic Party. Those are the guys who lost this one. The Daily News brings up the absence of strong Democratic support, and I think they're right to lay their focus here. Party support was the one advantage that Thompson should have had in this race, and he didn't even get that. It was one of Bloomberg's rationales for his own outrageous spending; that his opponent had party backing.

This is a terrible day for my party. We balked in the face of wealth, laid down like cowards, pretty much just because the loudest voices told us to. Statistics made Obama falter, hesitate to stump with Thompson. Statistics that were unquestioned, unprodded, clearly poorly ascertained. In other elections, democratic consultants and political staff stick to their party at risk of losing work with the Democrats in the future. Tim Kaine, the chairman of the DNC, was silent while the best talent our party has to offer went to work for the largest private donor to the Republican party in the United States. Went to work for a man running on the Republican ticket. Where do they draw the line?

When they should have been securing donors nationally for Thompson, like they did for Green in '01, the party sat on its hands. The state party didn"t fundraise for him either. The Democratic Party lost this election, lost the opportunity of having a good Democrat in City Hall. Our party leaders -- Tim Kaine, NYS Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs, Governor Patterson, and President Obama -- should be held accountable for withdrawing their backing; the one advantage that should have been a guarantee for Thompson.

Elizabeth Benjamin at the Daily Politics Blog posted this story, about Norman Seabrook, the president of the Correction Officers Benevolent Association whose union backed Bloomberg in '01 and '05, but backed Thompson in '09. Seabrook responded to a question about the closeness of the race: "That means that a lot of the individuals that were supposed to be supportive, that considered themselves Democrats, that considered themselves staunch supporters of righteousness, strong supporters of change, strong supporters of taking the homeless off the streets are full of shit."

I hope the DNC gets the message.