Mayor Michael Bloomberg has just brought arrogance to a whole new level, some critics say.
The billionaire said today he's not really running against anyone in this year's mayoral election, and sought to cast his challengers as irrelevant.
The Republican-turned-independent portrayed his campaign for a third term as a lone effort to advertise his record since taking office in 2002.
"I'm not running against anybody,'' Bloomberg told reporters. "I'm running on a record, and I'm trying to lay out the things that I would do if given another opportunity.''
The mayor's multimillion-dollar campaign might not have gotten the message.
Through e-mails, television appearances and other means -- like showing up at an opponent's events -- the Bloomberg campaign regularly points out what it calls the "failures'' of William Thompson Jr., the Democratic front-runner. Last week, Bloomberg campaign officials called a news conference to talk solely about Thompson after a report on his management of the municipal pension system.
Thompson spokesman Mike Murphy asked, if Bloomberg isn't running against anyone, why is he spending so much money and "why does he have his hired guns lob baseless negative attacks at Bill on a daily basis?''
"This is an election, not a coronation,'' Murphy said.
The mayor spoke Thursday in response to questions about a Democratic primary debate on Wednesday night. Thompson and Democrat Tony Avella spent the better part of 90 minutes criticizing Bloomberg instead of engaging with each other.
The mayor did not participate in the debate because he is not facing a primary. The Democratic contest is Sept. 15, and the winner will run against Bloomberg in the November election.
Bloomberg said the Democrats "wasted an opportunity'' by attacking him instead of saying why they want to be mayor.
At least, he heard that's what they said.
He said he didn't watch the debate because he wasn't curious to hear what his potential challengers had to say, not even as a strategy to prepare for general election debates.
Democrats William Thompson Jr. and Tony Avella largely ignored each other throughout the debate, but they did argue once — about money, a hot topic in a race where the popular mayor is spending millions on his campaign. Thompson compared his campaign to President Barack Obama's grass-roots effort. Avella ridiculed the description because most of Thompson's donations are not from small donors.
The Democratic primary is Sept. 15.
"I'm not going to 'face' either of them,'' Bloomberg said of Thompson and Avella. "I'm going to answer the questions and say why I should deserve the opportunity to serve the public for four more years.''
Avella said Bloomberg was showing "arrogance.''
"It's up to the voters to decide who are the real candidates in this race and who is trying to buy their votes,'' Avella said in a statement.