The Note: Blessed Is He Who Expects Nothing . . .

"Aides to several candidates said privately that they were torn between concern about Mr. Kerrey's intentions and a desire not to be seen attacking a major figure in the national party. The candidates' campaign organizations issued carefully crafted responses, but some campaign members were already whispering about potential liabilities for a Kerrey candidacy, like his admission four years ago that a unit he led in the Vietnam War had killed unarmed civilians," per the New York Times. LINK

"The sharpest response to Mr. Kerrey came from the Bloomberg camp, which did not hesitate to highlight what it viewed as his erratic attitude toward the mayor's race in recent weeks. Mr. Bloomberg was in Germany on Olympics business and not available for comment, but his aides said he was mystified by Mr. Kerrey's actions, and they provided new details of how Mr. Kerrey's support for the mayor unexpectedly curdled in the last few days."

"The aides, who spoke on the condition that they not be identified so as to avoid a public fight with Mr. Kerrey, said the former senator from Nebraska did not hesitate to accept Mr. Bloomberg's personal request about two weeks ago that he become chairman of Democrats for Bloomberg. That followed a meeting with William T. Cunningham, the mayor's communications director, and Robert B. Tierney, the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission chairman, where, the aides said, Mr. Kerrey spoke highly of the mayor and indicated that he would be willing to assist the re-election campaign."

Hum: "[Bloomberg chief strategist Kevin] Sheekey also said he believed an article in the new issue of Time magazine naming Mr. Bloomberg one of the nation's five best mayors - citing his stewardship of the city budget and economy - would squelch much of Mr. Kerrey's criticism."

The New York Times David Herszenhorn assess the state of New York City schools; math scores up slightly (but part of a trend that preceded Bloomberg?), school safety improvements are questionable, bureaucracy remains bureaucracy, and attendance hasn't gotten better. LINK

"At some of the signature stops that Mr. Bloomberg made to highlight his ambitious plans for the schools, a picture emerges of two years of extraordinary upheaval. To some degree, the mayor's travels reflect his willingness to tackle the most difficult problems in the most troubled schools. And, of course, there are schools across the city where principals expressed optimism. At the same time, the mayor's inability so far to achieve clear-cut success, even where he had personally shone a spotlight, helps explain why many New Yorkers fail to see any change and why some say things are actually worse."

The Los Angeles Times' Jessica Garrison and Patrick McGreevey wrap Sunday's bitter debate between incumbent mayor James Hahn and challenger Antonio Villaraigosa, the third in the runoff campaign, which devolved into accusations and criticisms over investigations of Hahn's administration. The final debate will take place Saturday morning. LINK

Howard Dean speaks:

DNC Chairman Howard Dean's comments on Terri Schiavo, abortion and Tom DeLay obscured what was newsworthy: his rolling out more details about how the party plans to build organizations in all 50 states. LINK and LINK

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