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Billionaire is latest to oppose Mayor Mike Bloomberg's term limits bill

(Credit: Politirazzi)

By Jason Fink

jason.fink@am-ny.com

It may just take a fellow billionaire to stop Mayor Michael Bloomberg from claiming a third term in office.

Businessman and Buffalo Sabres owner Thomas Golisano announced Monday he doesn’t believe the law limiting officeholders to two terms should be changed without voter approval.

Golisano, who has an estimated net worth of $1.6 billion, will even go as far as to finance an opposition campaign that will include newspaper advertisements and likely radio and television spots.

“The people have the right and deserve the opportunity to make this decision,” Golisano said.Bloomberg said he welcomes Golisano’s voice in the debate, but even his staunchest allies admitted Monday that the latest opposition would make for a tough battle.

“It’s going to be harder,” said former Mayor Ed Koch, who was among the first to support Bloomberg’s decision to run again.

City Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing), an opponent of a council bill extending term limits to three terms, said Golisano’s support “helps level the playing field.”

“The discourse has been heavily stacked in favor of the haves - the billionaires and the magnates,” Liu said.

Bloomberg declared earlier this month that he wanted another four years in office and would seek to change the term-limits law so that he could run again.

Golisano praised Bloomberg’s reign but said voters must have the chance to consider any change to term-limits law. The public twice approved term-limits in the 1990s.

The City Council has fast-tracked the mayor’s bill and could vote as early as Thursday, although that was looking unlikely yesterday. Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who backs the

Bloomberg plan, told some council members that the vote was not on the agenda yet for Thursday, a possible indication that there was not enough support currently for the bill’s passage.

Douglas Muzzio, a political science professor at the Baruch School of Public Affairs, said as long as the law remains in the hands of the council he doubts Golisano’s efforts will matter.

“He would have to directly be able to influence the council members,” said Muzzio. “He doesn’t have enough reach or enough time or enough money compared to Michael Bloomberg to make a difference.”

If the council were to pass the bill, Golisano said it was possible he would help finance legal challenges.

The AP contributed to this report.

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