Saturday, November 28th 2009, 4:00 AM
Mayor Bloomberg's 2009 campaign spending of more than $102 million to win a third term shatters a record previously set by ... Mayor Bloomberg.
The mayor - who has spent more of his own cash pursuing elected office than anyone in U.S. history - blazed through $18.7 million between Oct. 20 and Thursday, new figures show.
Bloomberg, whose worth has been pegged at $17 billion, prevailed by less than 5 percentage points despite wildly outspending city Controller William Thompson, who ran on private donations and public matching funds.
The win cost Bloomberg about $174.53 per vote, much of it on his ubiquitous TV ads.
Thompson's official numbers come out Monday, but an aide said he spent about $8.3 million - or about $15.51 per vote. That would mean Bloomberg outspent Thompson by about 12 to 1.
Bloomberg shelled out $74 million in 2001 and $85 million on his 2005 reelection.
Campaign spokesman How-ard Wolfson said this year's record price tag was "absolutely" worth it in a election season with a national anti-incumbent undercurrent.
"In a climate in which people are unhappy - [with] the economy especially - campaigns have to start early, and they have to reach out to voters in many different ways," Wolfson said.
A Thompson aide said the controller made it a close race by focusing on core issues like the high cost of city living.
There's a mixed message in the bang Bloomberg got for his buck this year after angering some voters by pushing the City Council to overturn the two-term limit for mayors, said Prof. David Birdsell of Baruch College.
Although it may be "bad for democracy" to have one candidate with so much more financial firepower than any rival, he said, the slim margin suggests there's "hope for people who can run tough, effective campaigns to exploit the weaknesses of even extraordinarily well-financed candidates."
As yet unrevealed is how the big-bucks mayor may reward his staff for this year's narrow victory.
In 2005, Bloomberg lavished 79 campaign staffers with a total of $1.55 million in bonuses.
The mayor gave 11 members of his staff a total of $850,000 in bonuses after his 2001 underdog win.