America's suburbs are growing in economic influence, while cities are declining. But these days when it comes to politics, big-city mayors often get promotions. That's especially interesting because back when cities enjoyed more influence mayors often found that their upward political mobility stalled:
Here's Joel Kotkin:
- But today, mayors across America are riding an unprecedented wave of upward mobility. Here in California, for example, the men most widely touted to become governor once the Terminator terminates are not any of the myriad of statewide Democratic officeholders, but two high-profile mayors, San Francisco's Gavin Newsom and Los Angeles' Antonio Villaraigosa.
And this is not just another weird California phenomenon. Earlier this month, Ed Rendell, former mayor of Philadelphia, was easily re-elected governor of Pennsylvania. Another mayor, Martin O'Malley, became governor of Maryland despite a less-than-stellar record in governing crime-ravaged Baltimore.
There are others on the way. Houston's highly effective Mayor Bill White and Denver's popular "hip and cool" John Hickenlooper are already seen as serious contenders to being elected governor.
And for the first time in more than four decades, a former mayor, New York's Rudy Giuliani, stands as a serious candidate for president.
Sure many mayors haven't done much to actually improve their cities. Take San Francisco's Newsom:
- He's already lost the Olympics and maybe the 49ers as well. He has failed to reverse San Francisco's business-repelling political culture or its reputation for left-wing lunacy. The city's looming long-term fiscal crisis, largely the product of bloated public employee pensions, also has not been dealt with.
But never mind these boring details. Like O'Malley, Newsom is young. He's handsome. He exudes a hip-and-cool image that commands attention from local media, members of the opposite sex and political elites. If he starts campaigning in Hollywood, meager content and appealing looks can be counted on as a winning combination.